Monday, September 22, 2014

review of tarquin hall's "Vish Puri" series

I'm rolling these three into one review, because I've read them and I love them and I can't decide which of them to review.  I'll differentiate between them, since they are, of course, different, but let me start here:

If you've been reading this blog for a little bit, you know I enjoy a good mystery.  Often the mysteries I review here can be quite dark - and more often than not, pretty gruesome.  I'm not sure why that is (weird quirk?), but whenever and whatever I read, I like a plot and a set of characters that hold some authenticity - where it's almost as if there's part of a character that gets how difficult and grungy life can be. Andrei Bolkonsky, Scarlett O'Hara, Lisbeth Salander - many, many more fit the bill.  I'd rather read through the evolution of one of those characters than a floppy, fun piece of fluff (though those have their place also).

The Vish Puri books are not gruesome.  They are light and engaging, with amusing riffs between family and minor characters that add color and intrigue to a seemingly straightforward storyline.  Food is a big part of Vish Puri's life, and the descriptions of the dusty streets and the diverse and flavorful lives of throngs of people in India made these books some of my favorite reads during my daily commute.

The Case of the Love Commandos: This was the first of the series I read, and I didn't realize that the style was a bit different from the others.  We got far more in-depth glimpses into Facecream's story alongside Vish Puri's, which I thought was a smart way of allowing more minor characters - part of Vish Puri's investigative team - to come forward and develop.

The Case of the Missing Servant: This is the first book in the series, and I loved seeing more of Mummy's character here.  She's one of my favorite characters - there is nothing overdone about her, nothing excessively boisterous, and yet she is so funny and such a passionate part of the series.  Another really lovely part of these books is the fact that Vish Puri does not hate his mother.  In fact, the relationship between them is comfortable and mutually respectful (to a degree ;)).

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken: This was the most complex of them all, and felt longer than the first two, which was a positive.  What I most enjoyed was delving into the historical, cultural, and geographical complexities that have impacted and continue to influence India and Pakistan - and though I have never seen a cricket match, it very nearly made me want to ;)

Do you find yourself reading certain genres over and over again? Are there characters that you love to watch develop and become more complex?

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