1920s India: Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer, is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in full purdah when the case takes a turn toward the murderous. The author of the Agatha and Macavity Award-winning Rei Shimura novels brings us an atmospheric new historical mystery with a captivating he...
1920s India: Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer, is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in full purdah when the case takes a turn toward the murderous. The author of the Agatha and Macavity Award-winning Rei Shimura novels brings us an atmospheric new historical mystery with a captivating heroine.
Inspired in part by the woman who made history as India’s first female attorney, The Widows of Malabar Hill is a richly wrought story of multicultural 1920s Bombay as well as the debut of a sharp and promising new sleuth.
Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes women’s legal rights especially important to her.
Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X—meaning she probably couldn’t even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah—in strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are in further danger.
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“ Finalist for the 2019 Mary Higgins Clark Award.”
“A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018”
“ A WBUR On Point Best Book of 2018.”
“The Bookseller (UK) Editor's Pick for Mystery.”
“ A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Mystery for Fall.”
“An ABA IndieNext Selection for January.”
“Beautifully constructed and highly emotional. Massey’s knowledge of Japanese antiques and downtown D.C. enhances the story.”
“A sprightly, engaging tale by setting a classic English-style whodunit in contemporary Japan . . . This young, hip, sake-sipping sleuth leads a reader into a Tokyo that doesn’t make the guidebooks . . . Sly, sexy and deftly done, Wife is one to bring home.”
“There is a new sleuth on the literary map and her name is Perveen Mistry, practicing woman lawyer, feminist, survivor of abuse and solver of murder mysteries. In THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILLS, Sujata Massey brings 1920s Bombay to life, a time when the British still ruled, single women were not served alcohol in restaurants and there was murder most foul. With an indomitable heroine and a solid cast of side kicks, this is the start of a series mystery readers should not miss.”
–Amulya Malladi, bestselling author of A House for Happy Mothers & The Copenhagen Affair
“A fascinating setting, an extraordinary new sleuth, and a story that enthralls you–The Widows of Malabar Hill has all three and more. Sujata Massey's new historical series is absolutely terrific, and you are just going to love Parveen Mistry, India's first female lawyer.”
–Charles Todd, best-selling author of the Ian Rutledge Series and the Bess Crawford Series
“Sujata Massey is one of the most talented writers working today. In her hands, 1920s Bombay comes alive with the sounds, sights and smells of a place and time where women were still second class citizens. Perveen Mistry is an unforgettable heroine, fighting for justice in an enigmatic, beautiful and flawed world. With gorgeous prose, Massey weaves a captivating mystery. The Widows of Malabar Hill is an extraordinary novel.”
–Allison Leotta, author of The Last Good Girl
“Perveen is strong, tenacious and smart, just the kind of advocate you'd want to have on your side. And as someone who was born and raised in the city, I love the way in which Massey recreates colonial Bombay, down to the architecture, social interactions, politics and gender dynamics. You can feel the breeze coming off the Arabian Sea and taste the pastries at Yazdani's bakery.”
–Radha Vatsal, author of A Front Page Affair
“Perveen Mistry is an extraordinary heroine—one of the first female lawyers in India, she’s whip smart, strong-willed, and, most importantly, compassionate. Defying convention while draped in a sari, Perveen is sure to join the leads of great mystery fiction.”
–Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope mysteries
“In addition to getting an unusual perspective on women’s rights and relationships, readers are treated to a full view of historical downtown Bombay—the shops and offices, the docks and old fort, and the huge variety of conveyances, characters, and religions—in an unforgettable olio that provides the perfect backdrop to the plot and subplots. Each of the many characters is uniquely described, flaws and all, which is the key to understanding their surprising roles in the well-constructed puzzle.”
–Booklist, Starred Review
“[Massey] does a wonderful job of taking life in India at the beginning of the 20th century. She gives enough cultural details without overwhelming readers with facts. The two plotlines wonderfully depict the development of the main character and the mystery as it unfolds... Fresh and original.”
–Library Journal, Starred Review on the The Widows of Malabar Hill
“Introducing an incisive, sympathetic heroine with a painful past while shedding light on a fascinating cloistered historical world, The Widows of Malabar Hill is not only immediately engaging–it has staying power.”
–Lyndsay Faye, Edgar-nominated author of Gods of Gotham and Jane Steele
“An Amazon Editor's Pick for Best of January.”
“An Apple iTunes Most Anticipated Book of 2018.”
“The mystery is a strong one because readers must acquaint themselves with this unfamiliar world in order to piece together what happened. And what can I say about the setting? Massey pulled me right into this world, and I was almost on sensory overload. The old ways versus the new. Bombay's rapid growth into a vibrant major city. The various political, religious, and social factions that chafed against each other on a daily basis. And one woman, with the support of her parents, who's strong enough to stand up for what's right. A+.”
“Perveen’s dogged pursuit of truth and justice for her clients is reminiscent of the debuts of Anne Perry’s Charlotte Ellison Pitt and Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs. But the multicultural, multi-faith milieu in which Perveen lives, works and attempts to find love both illuminates a bygone era and offers a thoughtful perspective relevant to today’s focus on women’s rights and equality.”
“Perveen Mistry is a wonderful creation.”
–Books to the Ceiling (blog)
“[A] highly original story and satisfying ending make this a promising series debut.”
–Mystery Scene Magazine
“Wonderful... A rich blend of history and fiction, [The Widows of Malabar Hill] brings historical Bombay to vibrant life in this engaging mystery.”
–The Seattle Review of Books
“Marvelously plotted, richly detailed... This is a first-rate performance inaugurating a most promising series.”
–The Washington Post
“I've been complaining for several years now that we don't have enough competent female leads in mystery series, and Sujata Massey has delivered with The Widows of Malabar Hill. I was taken in by this Law-and-Order-esque tale set in lush, swing-era Bombay, and I loved seeing Perveen proceed with a cool head and a fiery heart. Readers looking for a strong female heroine, a vivid setting and a strange mystery will find it here.”
“Massey's extensive research of Bombay during British imperial rule, its various ethnic communities and their respective legal customs, is seamlessly folded into the fabric of the story. The book is filled with fascinating bits of culture and history, a look at India's Parsi and Muslim communities, well-written coutroom scenes, and even a locked-room murder.”
“ A Times of India Best Book of 2018”
“2019 Lefty Nominee for Best Historical Mystery Novel. ”