The Satapur Moonstone

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The Satapur Moonstone (Perveen Mistry Mystery #2) by Sujata Massey

So I made a booboo. I read this book first, before The Widows of Malabar Hill.

So after I read it, I wrote this review and left it the same.

This book appealed to me as I love the art deco style, when I see that my eyes are just magnetized to it.

The story takes place in 1922. Perveen Mistry left a bad marriage and became a lawyer, the only women lawyer in India-yes, not only the only woman, the only Indian woman. It has been hard at times as women are not always treated well in the ’20s. There are a lot of barriers and people treating her as less, but Perveen will persevere.

However, being an Indian woman lawyer does have its advantages. She was just hired by the British government to travel to Satapur to mediate between the Dowager Maharani (grandma) and the Maharani (mother) of the current Maharajah (just a boy) about where their future leader should attend school. While the British government isn’t in control or ruling Satapur, they heavily “influence” it and as there is no adult male Maharajah, he is a “ward of the state” technically.

The women have been arguing what to do, but every time they send the civil servant out there, he is refused as the women are observing purdah. No unknown males can enter the palace, and the only one who can go is a woman lawyer.

After hearing the amount she is to be paid:

She agrees to the plan and moves forward. But her good feeling doesn’t last as Perveen starts to wonder if this was a bad idea when she has to ride a mail cart to the Circuit House and wait there with the single civil servant, a male civil servant, Colin while the palanquin that is set to take her to the Maharaja is gone. This goes against a lot of customs.

She enjoys staying with Colin, the civil servant, and he likes her too. They both have similar interests, enjoy each other’s company, etc. Colin however is a white Britisher and Perveen is a Parsi, a married Parsi.

The two talk about the Satupar situation and Perveen grows concerned about the Maharajah. His mother the Maharani is very upset and worried he might die. His father passed away last year from cholera and his older brother was killed and eaten by a tiger. However, the quick succession of deaths has Perveen worried-is it an accident or were they killed on purpose?

The Palanquin has to be fixed and Perveen is stuck at the house a bit longer-and Colin throws a dinner party. There she meets a crew of interesting people-Britisher Dr. Andrews, former dancer Mehta, her husband Yazad, and Roderick Ames who has English name and manners but is Indian.

She learns more gossip abut the palace-the current maharajah’s father was in love with a dancer that disappeared in the night (maybe also murdered) and that Mehta was a princess in the palace and almost married the prince before she left India for France. When Mehta hears that Perveen is to go to the palace she tells her she needs to bring a gift to all its royal occupants. After looking at what she wants to take, she declares none are worthy of the Dowager Maharani and Maharani, kindly giving her some items she can give to the Maharani’s, one being a giant moonstone.

She also finds out from Mehta, that the two Maharani’s cannot stand each other.

This is going to be hard.

Finally Perveen is able to head to the palace, getting soaked and almost not allowed in, but is after she gives them the moonstone. The Dowager Maharani claims it was hers originally and stolen by some dancer and she tries to get Perveen to tell her how she got it, but doesn’t believe it came from Paris (what Mehta told her).

Hmm…

In the palace Perveen finds a bad situation. The two Maharanis are always fighting, constantly at odds. Maharani (the mother) is anxious that someone is trying to kill her son. She has been doing everything she can think of to protect him, but wants him out of the palace. The Maharajah’s uncle, Prince Swaroop, is very antagonistic and was with the late Maharajah when he was killed. Could he be trying to get rid of the heir to take it himself?

Perveen knows not who to trust and she almost is poisoned herself! The longer she stays the more she is certain of things: 1) the deaths were not an accident, 2) Perveen needs to get out of there as her life is in danger, and 3) someone is going to try to kill the Maharajah.

Perveen presents her case for schooling and also tries to get them to let her take the Maharajah with her, to protect him, but is refused. As it is clear that they are growing to dislike her, Perveen decides it is best to leave before she is thrown in jail.

She goes to Colin and shares what had happened at the palace and her fears. She isn’t there too long when Prince Swaroop comes accusing her of kidnapping as the prince is missing. Perveen gets on the case as she knows she needs to find him ASAP or else it’ll be too late.

Thoughts After Reading:

This was really good.

I liked that it was historical fiction and I liked how she explained the complexity of religion, class, and the history of India.

Interesting…

It was a great mystery as it captured my attention and I wanted to continue to read it. I figured out part of the book but the end had a twist that eluded me.

I loved it and am planning on reading the first book as soon as I can. (Which I already did.)

For more Perveen Mistry Mysteries, go to The Widows of Malabar Hill

For more Historical Fiction, go to And Only to Deceive

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

 

What Strange Creatures

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“What Strange Creatures” from Rational Creatures by Jenetta James

So here at MysteriousEats.wordpress.com I wouldn’t call us lazy, but if my older sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife.wordpress.com has already reviewed or posted something, we just copy and paste it minus the Austen-y things as we concentrate more on the mystery.

So my sister blog reviewed a book Rational Creatures, short stories on different Jane Austen female characters from Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Now most of these stories are not mysteries or have mysterious elements, so I just passed them by.

But the one that did interest me, was the Northanger Abbey short story by Sophia Rose and the Jenetta James’ one as both are mysteries!

Quick background on the story from JaneAustenRunsMyLife:

“The life of the Bertrams and their niece, Fanny Price, are interrupted when a Mr. Henry Crawford and Miss Mary Crawford come to visit their half-sister Mrs. Grant. Mary is set on winning the eldest Bertram, but finds her being struck by the younger. Henry’s sole purpose is to upset the apple cart by going after the Bertram sisters for fun, but having no intent of follow through. Will the Bertrams survive this?”

Plot Synopsis:

Mary is living with her uncle, the Admiral. He is a cruel, horrid man and it has become more unbearable living with him since her aunt passed away. Anyways, it seems to be an ordinary day, until a magistrate from Bow Street, Mr. James Hunter, comes calling about her missing friend, Miss Verity Stanhope.

Mary just laughs it off thinking that she probably ran off with some guy-either they eloped and will be back, or took off and now have to elope. But Mr. Hunter assures her that this isn’t a “normal” disappearance. She is the third in a serial kidnapping.

Where will this story take us? Is she going to become a super sleuth? Will she solve the mystery? Could it be someone she knows? Henry? Her uncle, the admiral? A new character? I’m invested.

He questions her, but there is no new information regarding her missing friend. Although Henry did leave early from the ball Verity disappeared from. And Verity always liked him. Hmmm….

Hmmm…

No, he has an alibi. It is clearly not him.

Mary keeps trying to shrug it off as an elopement as Verity was having a fortune coming her way, but Mr Hunter is not convinced. The two share a brief flirtation, and he is gone. A brief flirtation is all it could be as Mr. Hunter isn’t the type of man Mary is after.

Is he joking around?

The next morning Mary is at home with the Admiral, ugh. Things are even harder with him now that Henry is away. She tells him about an invite they received, but he declines as he will be out. He always does that sort of thing, could he be up to something nefarious? Such as…kidnapping?

Hmm…

The admiral doesn’t care about her or what she does, she can go to the party by herself. And he doesn’t care about this Verity business, as he sees her as just a dumb female.

Mary tries to stay on the idea that it is just an elopement, her friend is fine, but Mr. Hunter’s words keep coming back. She goes shopping and is enjoying herself, but then thinks how can she be happy and go out when something horrible could be happening to her friend?

She continues on her way and then she notices a carriage, it seems that wherever she goes the carriage follows. She goes, it goes. She stops, it stops.

She starts to become alarmed and wants to go into a shop when someone comes out…Mr. Hunter?

He followed her?! Is he the kidnapper?

Yes, he followed her, but just because he was worried maybe she could be next. He wasn’t going to say anything, but she was about to go into the shop of Madam Villechamp, a place where all the women who disappeared went into before they vanished.

Mary never would have gone in there, (except she was being followed), as her aunt always forbid her. Her aunt didn’t like the shop. But Mary must know what is going on and so she makes an appointment. She goes to check it out and when the assistant is out of the room she starts investigating.

She goes through the correspondence and there she finds a letter from her uncle! Her uncle’s mistress is Madame Villechamp! And he wants her to move in with him.

She runs to Bow Street and talks to Mr. Hunter, and finds out that Verity was found, it was an elopement. Mary talks with him and leaves to start a new life, going to visit Mrs. Grant and entering the Bertram’s lives.

Thoughts After Reading:

I think it was a good short story, but what about the missing women?

Their disappearances? Serial kidnapper? What happened?

For more from Rational Creatures, go to The Strength of Their Attachment

For more Jane Austen-themed mysteries, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

For more from JaneAustenRunsMyLife, go to The Inn at Half Moon Bay

For more kidnapping, go to Kidnapped!

The Man Next Door

“The Man Next Door” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

Mr. Mensch just finished with one of his “guests” and is looking for a new “visitor” to join him. Mr. Mensch inherited millions from his penny-pinching, miserly father. He has moved around the country and had many “visitors” stay with him in his basement or secret rooms.

This is not good

He’s been looking at his neighbor Bree Matthews, watching her. He knows that choosing her would be dangerous, police would come-but he can’t get her out of his head. She had been remodeling her townhouse next door and had a leak destroy everything. She came over enraged and yelling that the contractor told her it was his fault-he had a leak pouring onto her roof. Mensch just told her calmly to get another contractor take a look-its not his fault. While he was calm on the inside, a fire was growing inside him. He wanted her.

The next day, Bree came to apologize and admit she was wrong. She had another contractor view and it turns out the original contractor cut a lot of corners. Mensch accepted her apology and couldn’t deny it. She was to be his next visitor.

That night he went to work, cutting out the stone in the basement that connects the two houses, his plan to get in and get Bree.

Bree has been having a bad weekend. She had her beautiful home decorated and destroyed by shoddy work. She is taking the contractor to court, which caused a fight and break up with her boyfriend Kevin Carter, as he felt she should just accept the settlement. She had to spend their planned Friday night alone, leave the office early Saturday because she has a cold, and spent all Sunday in bed miserable. Now she is heading to court and is woken early because of a strange grinding noise from next door. Ugh!

She doesn’t know how much worse her life is about to get as that noise marks Mensch’s entrance. He breaks in, drugs her up-makes it look as if she was abducted on her way home Friday night, and imprisons her in her basement. Will she make it out okay, or face the same fate as his previous’ visitors?

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. It was so engrossing that I read faster and faster until I reached the conclusion. I had to know if she survived or ended up dead in the river.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Let Me Call You Sweetheart

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to Voices in the Coalbin

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

For more books with kidnapping, go to The Secret Adversary

For more serial killers, go to The House on Foster Hill

The Secret Adversary

Today is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI or Armistice Centurion. For this special day I felt the need to review a WWI type mystery, and chose:

The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence Mystery #1) by Agatha Christie

This is one of my favorite mysteries and the second of her mystery novels to be published. It has a fantastic mystery duo team-Tommy and Tuppence.

The mystery begins with the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915. As they are moving people to the lifeboats, a man approaches Jane Finn and asks her to carry some secret papers. She questions him, but he tells her that she is a woman and American, much more likely to get on a lifeboat and out than him.

Five years pass and we pick up with old friends Lt. Thomas “Tommy” Beresford and Miss Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley who run into each other in London. It has been three years since the have last seen each other and they catch up. She worked as a nurse during WWI, then at a government office job, but was let go and on the search for a new job.

Tommy was in France, then Mesopotamia, and then in Egypt until Armistice. For ten months he too has been job searching. But they don’t just talk shop, they also just talk about all kinds of things, Tommy mentioning how he overheard two men mention a name “Jane Finn”, he remembers the name as he finds it very odd.

Tuppence wants money and adventure and comes up with the idea that the two could start their own business- The Young Adventures, Ltd.-and run this advertisement.

Two young adventurers for hire.

Willing to do anything, go anywhere.

Pay must be good.

No reasonable offer refused.

They part ways, but then Tuppence is approached by a man with a job offer. They meet the next day and he offers £100 to travel to Paris, speak in an American accent, and pretend to be Edward Whittington’s ward. Tuppence questions him some more but he deflects and compliments her.

When Tuppence brings up Tommy, Mr. Whittington doesn’t want him. But the real surprise comes when Mr. Whittington asks for Tuppence’s name. She gives him the name “Jane Finn”, and everything changes. Mr. Whittington is angry, accuses her of trying to play him, and questions who could have squealed-Rita? Tuppence “blackmails” £50 out of him, hears him talk to a “Mr. Brown” and agrees to meet him the next day. But Mr. Whittington disappears.

Tuppence won’t let this go and gets Tommy to put in a new advertisement:

WANTED:

Any information respecting Jane Finn

Apply Young Adventurers, Ltd.

They receive two replies. The first is Mr. Carter who Tommy recognizes as a member of the OSS, that he met in France. “Mr. Carter”, not his real name, relates to them how they had an operative on the Lusitania with the draft of a secret agreement, by various representatives of different countries. When the boat was sinking the operative passed the documents to a young girl-Jane Finn-and did not survive, his body washing ashore. But no one knows what happened to the girl and the documents.

The girl was listed on the survivors, was an orphan, and was headed to Paris to work in a hospital. They have tried everything but she has completely disappeared. They need the documents as if they were to be public today it would be disastrous. Agreements made in war do not always do well in times of peace. The head of unrest and Bolshevist movements is the elusive “Mr. Brown”.

Tuppence puts that together with what happened in Mr. Whittington’s office-they wanted her to be Jane Finn, that is until it seemed she knew all about their plan. The call from “Mr. Brown” was probably one of warning and that is why he disappeared.

Hmm…

He hires them and the two start investigating. They begin by meeting the second person who answered their advertisement: Julius P. Hersheimmer is Jane’s cousin and a millionaire. He’s searching for her, and came to get Scotland Yard to find her. He brought a picture to give, but it turns out “Mr. Brown” played him and took it.

The three team up together as this case takes ups and downs and twists and turns. Kidnapping, imprisonment, mistaken idea, red herrings, Bolshevisks, amnesia, spy games, etc.

Thoughts After Reading:

I LOOOOOOOVEEE this mystery!!!!! I could read it over and over a thousand times.

The characters are amazing, the mystery marvelous, I just LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVEEEEEEEEEE It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Mysterious Affair at Styles

For more World War I, go to A Duty to the Dead

For more mysteries involving a disapperance, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more mysteries with amnesia, go to C is for Corpse

For more mysteries with kidnapping, go to Gates of Thread and Stone

For more spy stories, go to The Princess Plot

Happy Veteran’s Day! Thank you all who have served and are currently serving. Thank you for giving the ultimate sacrifice.