In this second instalment of Sujata Massey’s Perveen Mistry Investigates series, we find Perveen embroiled in a case of conflicting interests. Sent on behalf of the British government, she is compelled to resolve the differences between the dowager queen and the mother of the future ruler of Satapur about the schooling of the prince.
But the court politics become even more fatal when she soon realizes that someone doesn’t want her to intervene and will go to any lengths to keep her away.
I enjoyed reading The Murder on Malabar Hill, which is the first book in this series. And so, I was even more eager to pick up this one.
I love that this series reflects the socio-political and cultural nuances of India in the early 1900s. Here, we get to read about the political affiliations of the characters and how they feel about the British presence in India.
The Satapur Moonstone is a light mystery. It is not tense or fast-paced as many mystery novels usually are. And this is in part because of the author’s writing style.
A significant percentage of the book – more than one-third of it – is spent in preparing characters, i.e. in placing them at the right spots before the plot execution begins. Because I enjoy reading Sujata Massey’s writing, I didn’t mind this approach at all.
There’s a sense of adventure and the excitement of new experiences as Perveen arrives at the circuit house and is left to her own devices.
The way the author incorporates the location makes it more wholesome. The mountainous backdrop of the circuit house, the winding corridors and cavernous halls of the palace – all of it kept me engaged just as much as the plot did.
The portrayal of the dowager queen is quite stereotypical with her disdain for modern ways, arrogance, and superiority complex.
You’ll find that there are enough suspicious characters in the book to keep the revelation from being predictable. I wasn’t able to guess it because there is never a time sufficient reasoning was displayed.
I wish that Roderick Ames’ character arc had been better treated. He comes across as an outsider, never fully fitting in anywhere, harbouring resentment for others, and making snide remarks.
There’s even an aspect of Colin’s characterization that felt a bit like a plot device and not a natural aspect of his character.
All in all, The Satapur Moonstone is worth the read and provides food for thought regarding education, cultural-religious norms & more.
The last chapter being from the maharani’s perspective was a superb touch!
Either way, I was keen to pick up the sequel, The Bombay Prince. But with the way this novel ends, I have become even more excited to see what awaits Perveen in the third book.