T is for Tarquin Hall

This is part of the Alphabet of Crime Fiction series. Big thanks to Kerrie for doing the leg work. You can show your appreciation by heading on over to Mysteries in Paradise and either signing up or cheering everyone on.

T is for Tarquin Hall

Tarquin Hall is a British writer and journalist who has spent a large part of his life covering stories all over the world, including the Asian subcontinent. According to Wikipedia, Hall is the author of seven books (though they list only six but mention that a seventh is in the works), but it is the last three (or four if you count the one that is ostensibly being written) of the seven that are relevant to this challenge – The Case of the Missing Servant, The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing and The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken. All three star Vish Puri, his punjabi detective and India’s Most Private Investigator (as Puri refers to himself).

Hall’s mysteries are not hard-boiled nor are they cozies. It is perhaps a mixture between an easy-going puzzler and a tounge-in-cheek look at Indian life. I find the books reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No: 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Hall’s dialogues are also liberally dosed with Hinglish – a mix of Hindi and English (and Punjabi in this case), capturing the reality of how the educated Indian middle-class speak. This can make reading a little hard if you are not familiar with the subcontinent and with many of the words. Thankfully, his books come with a glossary.

I have only read one of the three books so far (The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing) but that has been enough to convince me that I should pick up the other two when I get the chance.   They are a fun and easy read set in a different world from the usual British and American fare, and Hall does a good job of picking up on some the uniqueness of life in India in general and Delhi in particular. So if you liked The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency definitely give Tarquin Hall and Vish Puri a try. India’s most private investigator is sure to solve your conundrum jaldi jaldi (quick quick).


8 responses »

  1. Peter – Oh, I’m glad you featured Tarquin Hall. I like his Vish Puri series very much and I agree with you that they don’t easily fit into a given category. But I do like the look at Indian life and the interplay among the characters. Fine choice!

  2. India’s most Private Investigator sounds really interesting. Apart from H R F Keating, I haven’t read any mysteries based in India. I will look for this series. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • I think I have read an Inspector Ghote mystery at some point of time but I’m not sure. Keating belongs to that rare (for their time) category of authors who wrote about places and situations they had never experienced themselves. Zane Grey and J. T. Edson are two others that come to mind.

  3. India is a new locale for me too. I will have to look for these books. Thanks Peter!

  4. I have been curious about this author and this post provides an introduction for me. Sounds interesting; might not be my cup of tea but I will give them a try. Who knows?

    • It may not be your cup of tea but they do have lots of tea in the book. 🙂 I think part of the appeal of the book is the heavy usage of Indian English. If you are not used to it, it might interfere with the enjoyment of the book. That said, it is very nearly a cozy in its way so the time commitment is minimal.


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