The widows of Malabar Hill / Sujata Massey.

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    • Abstract:
      Summary: "Introducing an extraordinary female lawyer-sleuth in a new historical series set in 1920s Bombay. 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 law degree from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's legal rights. 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 is going through 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 if they forfeit what their husband left them? 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 about the will 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."-- Provided by publisher.
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Booklist Reviews 2017 October #1

*Starred Review* Massey, author of the Rei Shimura mysteries and the stand-alone The Sleeping Dictionary (2013), debuts a new series featuring a female lawyer in India. In partnership with her father, Perveen Mistry mainly processes paperwork, since in 1920s Bombay, women are disallowed from presenting in court. Her chance to meet actual clients finally arrives when she questions the disposition of an inheritance to three Muslim widows living in full purdah (seclusion), which prohibits their talking to men. Each widow has signed over her only ongoing source of income to charity. Perveen is determined to ask them why, and inadvertently sets off a chain of violence and recrimination. 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. Readers might also enjoy Shona Patel's Flame Tree Road (2015) and Shauna Singh Baldwin's What the Body Remembers (1999) for additional fictional perspectives on women's experience in India. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2017 August #1

First in a new series from the Agatha and Macavity Award-winning Massey, this 1920s Bombay-set work has a distinctive heroine: one of India's first female lawyers. Perveen Mistry, who followed up her Oxford degree by joining her father's law firm, suspects that the three widows of a rich Muslim mill owner were acting under duress when they signed over their inheritance to charity. A subsequent murder proves that she was right to be concerned.

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

LJ Reviews 2017 September #1

This new series set in 1920s India introduces Perveen Mistry, the first woman to practice law in that country. The story alternates between 1916, when Perveen is a starry-eyed bride living in her husband's family home in Calcutta, and 1921, when she is working alongside her father in the family law firm in Bombay. Tasked with executing the will of Omar Farid, Perveen notices that Faisal Mukri, the guardian appointed by the husband, has persuaded Farid's three widows to donate their inheritance to charity. Since the women live in purdah, total seclusion from the world, Perveen wants to ensure that they understand the full ramifications of giving away their inheritance. An infuriated Mukri fires Perveen for her interference, but then a short time later, Perveen discovers his dead body. Did a family member kill Mukri to protect their inheritance? Massey, who wrote about contemporary Japan in her "Rei Shimura" mysteries, 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. VERDICT Massey's fans and historical fiction lovers will enjoy this fresh and original outing. [See Prepub Alert, 7/3/17; "Editors' Fall Picks," p. 35.]—Julie Ciccarelli, Tacoma P.L., WA

Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

LJ Reviews 2019 January #1

In 1920s Bombay, female lawyer Perveen Mistry investigates the mysterious circumstances surrounding the will of a wealthy businessman and the possible nefarious plot to rob his widows of their rightful inheritance. (LJ 9/1/17)

Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

PW Reviews 2017 November #1

Set in India in 1921, this outstanding series launch from Agatha-winner Massey (The Kizuna Coast and 10 other Rei Shimura mysteries) introduces Perveen Mistry, Bombay's first female solicitor, who works for her father's law firm, handling contracts and estate work. Faisal Mukri, the trustee of the estate of recently deceased textile-mill owner Omar Farid, writes to the Mistry firm to request changes in the estate settlement, claiming that Farid's three widows want to donate all their assets to a charitable foundation that would benefit the needy while paying them an annuity. The paperwork documenting the widows' intentions appears suspect, and Perveen's visit to their home and her conversation with Mukri only strengthen her conviction that something irregular is at work. Her due diligence in insuring that the widows' interests are protected eventually enmeshes her in a murder investigation. The period detail and thoughtful characterizations, especially of the capable, fiercely independent lead, bode well for future installments. Agent: Vicky Bijur, Vicky Bijur Literary Agency. (Jan.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.