The Case of the Love Commandos.
The series is among my favorites for a few reasons. First, the mysteries have an old fashioned sensibility (think Agatha Christie), but Puri and his crew use all of the modern technologies available to them. It’s the best of both worlds.
Second, I love the frame, the details of life in modern India. Hall gives a fair assessment of all the triumphs and problems, taking a hard look at Indian society. The stories are up to date with all of the current issues too. For example, in this installment, we have a plot involving young people in love who want to marry for love [not through arrangement] AND outside of their caste. Two big no-nos. There is a lengthy discussion of the caste system, specifically the Dalit class [the lowest one also known as Untouchables], and trying to discover if the caste system can be supported by DNA evidence. These are complicated issues.
Third, the characters are great. Puri is a great literary PI, not just in his skills, but in his quirks and habits too. I like his crew and his family too, specifically his Mummy who is becoming quite a famous senior citizen PI herself. Even the bad guys are eccentric here; in fact, the resolution of one of the mysteries is hysterical because of the villain’s disguise.
Finally, these novels are fun. Because of the first three reasons, I love returning to Puri, his crew and his family. The books have lots of detail, frame, and great characters yet they are still quick reads. All are about the same length (300 pages) with plenty of white space and dialog. You can read one in a few sittings. You laugh, you learn something about modern India, you visit with old friends, a mystery is solved, and justice is served.
There is one specific change in this installment that I would like to note. Over the first 3 books, Mummy has become more bold in trying to solve Puri’s mysteries and Puri has become more upset about her helping. Fresh off the success and national press on her help with the last novel, Mummy is bolder and Hall notes this by giving Mummy her own mystery within Puri’s novel. So for the first time in the series, we actually have 2 full mysteries being investigated and solved in separate cities by Puri and Mummy in one book. They are not related to each other at all. This sets up more of a conflict between Puri and Mummy. I can see the conflict brewing. The next mystery should bring mother and son back together and I can’t wait to see what happens.
Three Words That Describe This Book: eccentric characters, clever cozy, modern India
Readalikes: I have reviewed every book in this series and offered MANY readalikes over the years. Please click here to pull them all up.
For this installment in particular, readers may be interested in learning more about the modern Indian caste system and marriage issues. I have some suggestions to get you started. The first is nonfiction all about the Dalit class and the way they are treated, Untouchables: My Family’s Triumphant Journey out of the Caste System in Modern India by Narendra Jadhav. If you are interested in the whole world of Indian arranged marriages, click here for fiction and nonfiction options. Finally, either link in this paragraph will lead you to even more links of books about modern India. Poke around and look for one that piques your specific interest.
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