A Murder At Malabar Hill By Sujata Massey: Book's Review and Summary

Sujata Massey – A Murder at Malabar Hill – Living Arts Canberra


A Murder at Malabar Hill: A Thrilling Mystery Novel by Sujata Massey

A Murder at Malabar Hill is a thrilling mystery novel written by Sujata Massey. This book is part of the Perveen Mistry series, which follows the life of Perveen Mistry, a courageous and intelligent female lawyer in 1920s Bombay, India. The author, Sujata Massey, is a well-known English language writer from the United States. She has received many accolades for her work, including the Agatha and Macavity Awards for Best First Novel. In A Murder at Malabar Hill, Massey has created a gripping tale of intrigue, betrayal and murder in the historic city of Bombay.

Main Themes and Ideas Presented in the Book

A Murder at Malabar Hill covers many themes and ideas related to the social and cultural life of India during the early 20th century. The novel explores issues such as gender inequality, caste discrimination, political corruption, and religious extremism. Through the life of Perveen Mistry, the author highlights the struggles and challenges faced by women who dared to challenge the norms of patriarchy and pursue their ambitions. The novel also raises concerns about the flaws of the justice system and the ways in which it can be manipulated to serve the interests of the powerful.

In addition, A Murder at Malabar Hill presents a vivid portrayal of the rich history and culture of India. The book is full of descriptions of the vibrant city of Bombay and its architecture, food, music and festivals. The author has also incorporated into the story many details about the Parsi community, one of the oldest and most influential communities in India, which adds to the richness and authenticity of the narrative.

Critical Evaluation of the Writing Style and Message of the Author

Sujata Massey’s writing style in A Murder at Malabar Hill is engaging, descriptive and atmospheric. She weaves a complex and intricate plot that keeps the reader guessing until the end. Massey is a master storyteller who seamlessly blends the historical and cultural details of India into a compelling narrative. She has a keen eye for detail and uses evocative language to paint vivid images of the characters and their surroundings.

Furthermore, Massey’s message in A Murder at Malabar Hill is powerful and thought-provoking. Through her portrayal of Perveen Mistry, the author champions the cause of women’s empowerment and challenges the prevalent gender stereotypes in Indian society. The novel also exposes the deep-rooted biases and prejudices that exist in the justice system and calls for a more equitable and fair legal system. These social and political issues are seamlessly integrated into the narrative, making for a riveting reading experience.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Book

One of the main strengths of A Murder at Malabar Hill is its well-developed characters. The author has created a cast of diverse and interesting characters, each with their own unique motivations and hidden secrets. Perveen Mistry, in particular, is a fascinating protagonist who is smart, courageous, and independent. She is a trailblazer in many ways, breaking down barriers and challenging the status quo.

Another strength of A Murder at Malabar Hill is its intricate and carefully crafted plot. The story is full of twists and turns that keep the reader on the edge of their seat. The suspense is maintained throughout the book, and the ending is satisfying and unexpected.

However, one weakness of the book is that some of the characters and subplots are less well-developed than others. Some of the minor characters feel like caricatures, lacking the depth and nuance of the main characters. Additionally, some of the subplots feel rushed or unresolved, leaving the reader wanting more.

Comparison with Other Works in Its Genre

In many ways, A Murder at Malabar Hill is a unique book that stands out from other works in its genre. The novel is set in India, which is not a common setting for mystery novels, and it features a strong female protagonist from a minority community. The story is also steeped in India’s rich cultural and historical traditions, which adds to its uniqueness and originality.

However, the book can also be compared to other popular mystery novels, such as the works of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. Like their books, A Murder at Malabar Hill features a complex and intricate plot that is full of surprises and red herrings. The protagonist, Perveen Mistry, shares many similarities with other female detectives in the genre, such as Miss Marple and Harriet Vane, who are strong, independent women who use their intelligence and wit to solve crimes.

Overall Impression of the Book and Recommendation

Overall, A Murder at Malabar Hill is a captivating mystery novel that is well worth reading. The book is full of suspense, intrigue, and rich cultural and historical details that will transport the reader to another time and place. The protagonist, Perveen Mistry, is a strong and memorable character who will leave a lasting impression on the reader.

I would highly recommend A Murder at Malabar Hill to anyone who enjoys well-crafted mystery novels with a strong sense of place and culture. The book is perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and other classic mystery writers. It is also a great choice for anyone who is interested in learning more about Indian history and culture.


Can I read A Murder at Malabar Hill if I haven’t read the previous books in the Perveen Mistry series?

Yes, A Murder at Malabar Hill can be read as a standalone novel, although it does contain some spoilers for the previous books in the series. However, I would recommend starting with the first book, The Widows of Malabar Hill, to fully appreciate the character development and background of Perveen Mistry.

Does A Murder at Malabar Hill have any sensitive content?

Yes, A Murder at Malabar Hill does contain some sensitive content related to gender discrimination and violence against women. The author handles these issues with sensitivity and tact, but readers who are sensitive to these themes should be aware.

Is A Murder at Malabar Hill a good book for book clubs?

Yes, A Murder at Malabar Hill would make a great book club pick. The book is full of rich cultural and historical details that would spark interesting discussions. The protagonist, Perveen Mistry, is a complex and interesting character who would inspire thought-provoking conversations about female empowerment and cultural identity.

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