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The Case of the Love Commandos: Vish Puri, Most Private Detective    by Tarquin Hall order for
Case of the Love Commandos
by Tarquin Hall
Order:  USA  Can
McClelland & Stewart, 2013 (2013)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

For those who enjoy exotic cozies, here's a delight - Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator returns in Tarquin Hall's The Case of the Love Commandos. What are Love Commandos? In India, they help lovers from different castes marry despite strong family objections.

In this case, the Brahmin family concerned have their daughter in lockdown, but where there's a will there's a way. Tulsi is rescued from her ruthless father, Vishnu Mishra, 'a wealthy landowner with no qualms about exploiting the caste system that still doomed tens of millions of low-caste Indians to subjugation and poverty.' But when she's taken to meet her Dalit (untouchable) lover Ram, he's been abducted! What to do? The Love Commando in charge immediately calls Vish Puri for help - he just happens to be her boss, though he's unaware of her current activities, believing her to be on holiday in Goa.

Vish Puri, affectionately called Chubby (for obvious reasons) by his wife Rumpi, runs a celebrated detective agency in Delhi, India with the help of Handbrake (his driver), Flush (an electronics whiz), Tubelight (a heavy sleeper), and Handcream (Laxmi, a lovely Nepali undercover operative - and a Love Commando!) Laxmi's request for help is timely as Puri is delighted to find an excuse to avoid a family pilgrimage to Trikuta Mountain, especially as he has failed to solve his latest case. So Puri sees Rumpi, Mummy and entourage off by train, only to later find that a pickpocket has taken his wallet. To his dismay, Mummy is only too happy to investigate.

Puri heads to Ram's village, Govind, where Laxmi goes undercover as a village teacher, and eventually adopts Deep, the Dalit boy who helps her investigation into Ram's disappearance and his mother's murder. They find a link to a genetic research organization that has been taking blood samples from Dalits in Govind and to a powerful politician. Complicating matters is the involvement in the case of Puri's chief rival, Hari Kumar, unscrupulous head of Spycatcher Investigative Services.

Of course, Puri solves all his cases (as Mummy does hers, with Rumpi's help to Puri's great embarrassment) and Romeo and Juliet are reunited. If you haven't started this exotic cozy series yet, then jump right in - it's one of the very best. And don't miss the recipes for Mouthwatering Dishes from the Vish Puri Family Kitchen at the back - yumm!

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