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Summary

Bombay, New Year's Eve, 1949

As India celebrates the arrival of a momentous new decade, Inspector Persis Wadia stands vigil in the basement of Malabar House, home to the city's most unwanted unit of police officers. Six months after joining the force she remains India's first female police detective, mistrusted, sidelined and now consigned to the midnight shift.

And so, when the phone rings to report the murder of prominent English diplomat Sir James Herriot, the country's most sensational case falls into her lap.

As 1950 dawns and India prepares to become the world's largest republic, Persis, accompanied by Scotland Yard criminalist Archie Blackfinch, finds herself investigating a case that is becoming more political by the second. Navigating a country and society in turmoil, Persis, smart, stubborn and untested in the crucible of male hostility that surrounds her, must find a way to solve the murder - whatever the cost.

©2020 Vaseem Khan Limited (P)2020 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

What listeners say about Midnight at Malabar House

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  • VK
  • 06-02-21

A great Historical Mystery

Persis Wadia is the first female detective in post partition India. Not only does she have to prove her worth but she has a murder to solve
This book not only takes you into India of the 1950 but immerses you in the life and struggles of the people in this turbulent part of Indian history.

The plot to this book is woven into history beautifully and certainly keeps you guessing. It flows so easily that it was hard to put down. The clever plot came together at the end in the most satisfying way

Persis is a great character and on this case she is working with Archie Blacksmith a forensic expert from Scotland Yard. They are a most endearing match and I hope that we will see them again in the future.

The narrator definitely needs a mention as she was brilliant.
I feel I have been entertained by a good murder mystery while being educated in the history of India.
I would definitely recommend this book.

10 people found this helpful

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An Agatha Christie Style Ride

What a joy of a book. The story kept me guessing with plenty of twists and turns to keep up with. The struggles of India, of the poor, of women, were quite something, i had no idea. So as well as entertaining it was an education too.
The story was read to perfection, and i shall miss the characters like parting with old friends.

3 people found this helpful

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Another delightful thriller

Vaseem Khan writes the most entertaining thrillers and mystery novels. This one I consider one of his best. Alongside an intriguing story with India’s first woman detective as the main character, we are given some enlightening history of a dreadful time in India’s history.... partition. Although the subject and references are appalling, this is not a depressing book. On the contrary it highlights the resilience of the Indian character and has a gentle, old fashioned, “Agatha Christie” type of denouement which will knock your socks off!

2 people found this helpful

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It’s great

I wanted a crime novel with a strong sense of place, and this hit the spot. Great characters, very strong sense of place and time, strongly plotted. Really enjoyed the narration too. Look forward to more.

1 person found this helpful

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An interesting and entertaining murder mystery

This is my first listen to this author and found it fascinating, entertaining and informative. I am not sure I like Persus but I think she will grow on me in future tales. She has the unenviable position as the only female detective in India only a few years into Indian independence so her prickliness is probably understandable. I look forward to more on this indomitable female and also learning more on the development of the amazing continent of India.

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Engaging mystery, Persis is a joy !

I loved this tale. Persis is a character whom I look forward to meeting again hopefully. The plot is detailed and thorough and setting took me to her world. I thought the narrator was excellent...with one minor grumble. I found the Scottish accent on one of the characters a bit difficult to hear.. maybe because I am Scottish!!! Loved this audio book.

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A pedestrian plod …

but I managed to get to the end! It obviously hadn’t held my attention as I couldn’t work out exactly who the characters were for the big reveal! I enjoyed the insights into the partition of India but felt it could all have been melded together with greater intensity and excitement. It’s a murder mystery after all! Perhaps the narrator’s voice just didn’t help the characters to be anything more than two dimensional. It had potential as the premise is an interesting one. Give it a go, though. This is only one opinion and I’m not a literary critic by any stretch of the imagination!

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Excellent historical murder mystery

Brilliant murder mystery surrounded by a wealth of historical detail. Narrator is clear-voiced, with a measured pace, suitable to the material.

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very interesting background to an intriguing story

very interesting background to an intriguing story. well told with some flowery descriptive language. n

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Good ☝

Great to have an Indian female roll which guts. Narration great, story great. Cheers again Audible.

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  • Prinny abraham
  • 18-09-20

Feminist Fiction from a Male Author

I’ve read and enjoyed Vaseem Kahn’s previous novels. This newest story about a female in the Indian Police Force seemed forced. It was difficult to follow the historical background which I usually enjoy learning more about from this author. There were too many characters with only a small storyline. I just didn’t connect with Mr. Kahn’s feminine protagonist. I finished the story but was grateful when it was over.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Katharine
  • 30-12-20

An unpleasant proselytizing heroine

This is definitely a belt and suspenders type of writer. From the very beginning we learn not just about a burgled safe but it’s color, location, the weight of the picture disguising it and the fact it has two identical keys.
The lead character is the 1st policewoman in India and takes multiple opportunities to dwell on the exploitation of India by the English. Once I could have seen but the fourth and fifth time through were a slog.
It felt more of a youthful angst novel than a mystery. I’m sad because I thought the idea was excellent.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Better Reader
  • 28-06-21

I love colonial India tales and mysteries but …

While the plot line was well planned, the story was just too long ( and over explained) to keep my interest. If this had been a book, I would have jumped to the end half way thru. My strongest criticism, thou, is for the central character. She is just too strident and one dimensional to be believed; she could do with some needle humor or even just a pinch more tenderness.
I think this author is still trying to find his footing. He went from the silliness of the cozy mysteries involving a baby elephant sidekick (how many plots twists can you use with this constraint) to an overly involved book with too many subplots and cardboard characters without the enjoyment of all those lovely little everyday life vignettes I so enjoyed in his elephant series.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Web_mistress
  • 04-11-20

Very solid and informative

Aside from quite solid plot with a good number of red herrings and a cute romantic line, it gives insides in Indian life in mid-20 century.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Libin M.
  • 03-10-20

A time capsule if there was one

Very well written, can't wait for the next in the series. Love all the characters and how they were developed. Very striking about the Indian past, very well researched. The performance was also well on point.

2 people found this helpful

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  • John S.
  • 20-09-20

Mixed feelings here

I liked the setting, which did evoke memories of my visits to Bombay. The secondary characters were well done - especially Archie! The mystery angle plotting also worked well; the author does have a popular series under his belt for experience.

So, what's the issue? I wasn't all that fond of Persis herself. To me, her handling of sexism, and imperialism, came off as downright rude. However, I did like the ending of the story, which opens up the possibility that she mellows a bit.

Audio narration was okay, but not the greatest fit. The reader sounded clearly British (to me), rather than South Asian. If she reads more of the series, it's not a deal-breaker; if they want to try a different person, I'm up for that as well.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lynn
  • 16-07-22

Fantastic Book

I loved the heroine, India's first female police detective. She's fiercely dedicated and ferocious in pursuit of the truth. The author creates a time and place, 1950 Bombay, about as complex as any could be, and brings it stunningly to life. The heroine's family and colleagues are fun to spend imagination time with. The writing is exquisite. And I could listen to the narrator's velvet, lyrical voice read anything. I am thrilled to have started this new series. Oh- and the mystery is perfectly crafted and springs organically from the setting.

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  • Jim & Julie
  • 04-07-22

A good mystery with a promising heroine

I had read some negative reviews of this book, citing a thin plot and Persis’ character flaws. I disagree - I thought she was a good character with depth. She is prickly, angry at life’s injustices, and lacks social skills. But as the first woman on a police force rife with sexism and bare-faced misogyny, I think she handles herself well. Someone meek and mild would never make it in that environment. I loved that she’s smart, resourceful, fearless in the face of danger, a crack shot, and skilled in martial arts - all attributes that would be celebrated in a male character. I also thought the plotting and mystery were good, with lots of Indian history thrown in, and a perspective on Indians’ attitudes of that time (1950) toward the British. I look forward to Persis’ next case.

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  • Shefali Chheda
  • 15-06-22

great narration

liked the story and mystery set against historical events. the main character did not stay true to form. being an avid reader, I would have expected her to understand human emotions better. sometimes she was strong and formidable. other times she was clueless. hope her character evolves better over the series.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-01-22

Great period piece

This story wraps all of the disturbing aspects of the period surrounding India's independence from English rule with the changing roles of women. Persis Wadia is the first female Inspector in all of India. Set during 1950, when Mumbai was still called Bombay, their whole world was changing. This is reflected in some of Persis' indecision and occasional questioning herself. But she proves herself to be strong and intelligent. The mystery is well written and I loved the story.