Perveen Mistry returns to right wrongs in Sujata Massey’s The Bombay Prince. This entry sees the first Parsi woman lawyer hoping for a few more cases for the family firm while tension starts to simmer across the city in anticipation of a visit from the Prince of Wales, the future (briefly) King Edward VIII. On a routine day, Perveen has a visit from a student of one of her friends. The student asks for Perveen’s opinion about whether or not her college can kick her out for her political activities. This little meeting ultimately leads Perveen into a murder investigation, religious and political tangles, parental disappointment, and perhaps another chance at love.
The Prince of Wales’ visit to India reveals a deep divide between pro-independence Indians and Indians who are content to remain a part of the empire. While the pro-British side prepare for celebrations, the pro-independence side (which includes Perveen’s young visitor, Freny) are also scrambling on their response of protests and demonstrations. Freny only wants to refrain from attending a parade with the rest of her college, a minor act of rebellion. But she worries about expulsion and her parents’ displeasure if anyone finds out. This worry, unfortunately, creates an opportunity for her murder. Just a few days after Perveen and Freny meet, Perveen sees Freny’s dead body on the grounds of her college. Perveen immediately springs into action to make sure that Freny gets justice—something that’s even more difficult when the police are on high alert.
The Bombay Prince was kind of a slow burn until events kicked off the closer Perveen got to the solution. That slowness gave Massey a chance to do a lot of character development. We see more of Perveen’s father than we ever have. We also get to see more of life in Bombay’s Parsi colonies (neighborhoods, but a little more formal I think) and how complicated life can be in a place where everyone has very strict rules about how to behave. For example, part of what Perveen has to do, in addition to making sure that the Bombay police don’t write Freny’s death as a suicide, is making sure that all of the coroner’s work gets done in time for Freny to have proper Parsi funeral rites. Best of all, at least for me, was that Colin Sandringham returns. Perveen was not lucky in love (as we learned in The Widows of Malabar Hill). Colin first popped up in The Satapur Moonstone. The connection that grew between them on that case gave me hope that Perveen might be able to have a husband and a family in the future, something Perveen claims she’s accepted that she’ll miss out on because of her disastrous marriage.
Fans of Perveen Mistry will enjoy this one, and wait eagerly for a new book so that we can find out what happens next.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.