The Widows of Malabar Hill

The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry Mystery #1) by Sujata Massey

Thoughts Before Reading:

So I read book two first, and NEEDED to read the first book.

Plot Synopsis:

Perveen Mistry is the only female Indian lawyer. She works for her father and has just been given her first big case. Her father has represented Muslim mill owner Farid for years, and with his death some documents about his three wives’ inheritance comes across Perveen’s desk. All the women are practicing Purdah, and can only be around men related to them and women.

Muslim inheritance law is a little different from other law, so Perveen refreshes her knowledge of it, but something about the paperwork seems off. All the women want to give up their inheritance to the wakf-which is troubling but does happen-but even more so what bothers her is that one woman who is illiterate and on a previous document signed an “X”, while on this one wrote out her name.

Razia is the first wife, an arranged marriage. Sakina came next-beautiful and chosen for love/lust-and the only one to have a son. Mumtaz was the last wife, married right before Farid died. Mumtaz was met on one of the trips to the pleasure district, a musician, and the literate wife.

She goes to meet the women and is even more troubled. Their man who takes care of the estate, and them (a cousin of Sakin) is Mr. Mukri who seems to be taking liberties with his controlling of the finances and isolating the women. He is very abusive in his manner and treats Perveen like garbage.

The situation with the three wives is also extremely distressing. The second wife acts like the first wife, none know how much money they have, the third wife is treated horribly, and all think they have only one option-to put their money in the wakf. None know what Mukri spends their money on or what he plans to do with their inheritance.

Hmm…

Amina is the eldest daughter, born to the first wife and she is adorable and precocious. She’s always listening, sneaking around, and watching everything. She tries to warn Perveen about something but Perveen excuses Amina so she can speak to Mumtaz alone.

They get interrupted by Mr. Mukri who yells at Perveen and threatens her, bringing back old memories of her ex-husband. When Mukri gets distracted she leaves, but realizes she forgot her briefcase of important papers. She can’t leave it there, as it is highly confidential, so she sneaks in though the women’s entrance and finds Mr. Mukri DEAD.

As the widows are still observing purdah, the only one who can question them is Perveen. She needs to find out who the killer is before they strike again.

Thoughts After Reading:

This book was amazing. A fantastic read that I could not put down.

Not only do we have this great mystery, but also a view of Hindu, Zoroastrianism, and Muslim law-all very distinct in their law and customs.

Perveen also has her best friend move from England, Alice, and we see a view of the Indian and English relationship in 1921 India. This too was really interesting as you can see that some like the British Colonialism, some have just learned how to live with it, and others are talking about removing it.

We also get a look into Perveen’s history with her husband, and boy it was a sad one and one heck of a doozy. Poor Perveen.

I definitely recommend this!

For more lawyer mysteries, go to My Husband’s Wife

For more mysteries, go to Motive v. Opportunity

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 

Strawberry Shortcake Murder

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Strawberry Shortcake Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #2) by Joanne Fluke

So as I have mentioned before, I didn’t read this series from book one, but came in the middle and am backtracking my way to the beginning. I’m glad I didn’t start at the beginning as these early books are bad.

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Like really bad. If I started at the very beginning I would have passed this series on by.

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So the first clue that this book would stink was the dedication.

For my kids.

You asked for your favorite recipes.

Here they are in novel form.

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NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

You never, ever, ever, write a book based around recipes. That’s extremely stupid.

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So Lake Eden has been chosen for the first ever Hartland Flour Bake-Off. Hannah isn’t competing, but in between deliberations creating concoctions for the judges and how to do it for the viewers.

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One of the judges is Coach Boyd Watson, the wife beater from Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, is especially cruel and harsh in his criticisms, upsetting many promising cooks.

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One night Hannah comes upon Coach Boyd Watson’s dead body, and facedown in her Strawberry Shortcake!

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The police think his wife is the killer, but Hannah believes in her innocence. She then sets out to discover the real murderer.

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Thoughts After reading:

I did not like this. I know I said before, but it bears repeating.

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So let’s start off with the first problem of the novel. It begins with Hannah hearing a crash  in her condo and “going after that person.”

really?

She decides that she isn’t a “Miss Priss” and would rather go after them with a bat instead of being a “sissy girl” calling the sheriff.

really?

Of course it turns out to her cat, (saw that one a mile away), but what if it wasn’t her cat? What if that was really a burgler or murderer. They could have a gun! It’s nice to think you can handle things, but much better to actually call the cops to have them do their job.

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And then we have the same old same old complaining about mom.

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I guess as the second book it is for the “new readers”, but it still bothers me. It’s like when The Baby-sitters Club would always review the same thing in the second chapter. It gets old, fast.

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And then there is Hannah’s niece Tracey. Once again Joanne Fluke has never been around small children, or at least doesn’t remember what it’s like. I know precocious children, but none of them speak as well as Tracey. Fluke just made her waaaay too advanced for a four-year old.

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So Boyd’s a jerk, but honest in his review of the bake off. So what? We are already hate him for being a wife beater, isn’t that a little overkill?

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Then we get the Hannah’s commentary. Ugh I hate this as it is always BORING!

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She wishes that they still made Big Chief notebooks. But they can’t because they aren’t P.C. to have Indian notebooks. Well Hannah now you will get my commentary.

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They aren’t Indians Hannah. I know you want to be ignorant and call them that, but they aren’t from India. And while you are right, most don’t wish to be called Native American, it’s not because their “family walked over the land bridge from somewhere else,” which by the way:

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But because they prefer to be called by their tribe name.

Okay, so this book was published in 2001 and is supposed to be set in modern times, but a lot of times she acts like she is from the past. A girl kicked out of college for being too “wild” [sexually]. They don’t kick you out for being “wild”, they kick you out for not doing your work, paying rent, or causes issues because of alcohol, drugs, etc.

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Plus Hannah is really rude and judgmental. She realizes that having a good relationship with her sister Andrea is fun and that she shouldn’t have said all those horrible things when she was younger, “even though she deserved it.” She called Andrea an idiot for flunking her math test, when she should have helped her study. Uh, no! No one deserves that. Just because she isn’t that good in math you shouldn’t call her stupid. Rude Hannah, rude.

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Then there is when Hannah is all high and mighty about her crime solving skills. She’s all ” yeah Mike and Bill are good cops and would have eventually figured everything out, but what I did actually helped.” Well, let’s see why your way helped? Hmm? YOU BROKE INTO AN APARTMENT. The police can’t just do that stuff. They have to follow certain rules because of the rights our forefathers wanted to protect. What you are doing is EXTREMELY WRONG!

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The book was horrible, and Hannah was horrible.

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For more Hannah Swenson mysteries, go to Candy for Christmas

For more Midwestern mysteries, go to Fatally Frosted

For more book reviews, go to The Black Echo