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The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken: A Vish Puri Mystery    by Tarquin Hall order for
Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken
by Tarquin Hall
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Butter chicken is a family favorite in my home, so how could I resist Tarquin Hall's latest cozy Vish Puri mystery, The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken?

Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator, is affectionately called Chubby (for obvious reasons) by his wife Rumpi and his corrupt childhood friend Rinku. He runs a celebrated detective agency in Delhi, India with the help of employees he nicknames Handbrake (his driver), Flush (an electronics whiz), Tubelight (a heavy sleeper), and Handcream (a lovely Nepali undercover operative).

His latest case begins with a banquet. Actually it begins by weighing Chubby on a set of scales, which he then fixes to hide his weight gain from Rumpi, who is constantly urging him to eat a healthier diet. This is followed by a cricket match in which Rumpi's nephew Rohan, 'one of the country's new hopefuls', is playing. The match is followed by a dinner at the Delhi Durbar Hotel, during which Pakistani Faheem Khan is poisoned.

Puri is disturbed by his Mummy-ji's propensity to get involved in his investigations, but this time she has personal reasons, dating back to her girlhood involvement with an organization that rescued abducted women (activities that help explain her investigative skills) during the Partition of India and Pakistan. Puri is hired by the Clean Up Cricket organization to find the killer. The leads he uncovers take him (for the first time) to Pakistan, where he realizes that ordinary people are the same on both sides of the border.

And for comic relief, Puri has a second case running in the background, in which the villain is cutting moustaches off the faces of illustrious members of the Mustache Organization of Punjab. It's a hairy problem for Puri!

I loved the quirky mystery - and the exposure to modern India that readers get following Puri's trail - but I have to admit that I salivated over all the street snacks that tempted Puri from his diet, and added on the pounds when his scales were finally set straight! If you haven't found this series yet, it's tremendous fun, but you'll find it's thought provoking as well.

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