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Murder in Old Bombay    by Nev March order for
Murder in Old Bombay
by Nev March
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Nev March's Murder in Old Bombay introduces Anglo-Indian Captain Jim Agnihotri (an admirer of Sherlock Holmes and raised in an orphanage) in 1892 Bombay, when the city was the center of British India. Recovering in hospital from wounds sustained on the northern frontier, Jim is fascinated by newspaper accounts of two young women (Bacha and Pilloo), who fell from the university clock tower in broad daylight, apparently suicides.

After he makes contact with the dead women's Parsee family, the Framjis, they hire him to investigate the deaths, posing as a student of law. He applies Conan Doyle's methods and discovers oddities in the case. As this unfolds, Jim becomes a good friend of young lawyer Adi Framji (Bacha's husband and Pilloo's foster brother), and is attracted to Adi's sister Diana, even though she is clearly unattainable. Diana wants to be involved in the investigation but her father forbids it.

Jim is attacked and beaten but not deterred. He foils a burglary. The investigation takes him to Lahore, dressed as a Pathan. When the city is attacked and trains halted, he heads to Simla on foot and rescues a child, Chutki, en route. He finds other refugee children needing help and adds them to his growing entourage. In Simla, he's enlisted for a military mission to Pathankot, where he finds more answers. The case takes him to Ranjpoot disguised as a missionary, then back to Bombay.

The mystery meanders all over India as Jim pursues the case to its conclusion. He saves the day for the Framjis, but his love for Diana seems impossible, given the Parsee culture to marry only another Parsee. As always, Jim knows he will have to make his own place and sets off to do just that. Though the mystery was interesting, what I enjoyed most in Murder in Old Bombay was the atmospheric journey across historical India and Jim's encounters along the way.

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