Posted in Books

Book Review: The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken, by Tarquin Hall

About the author:
Writer and journalist Tarquin Hall has lived and worked in much of South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the US. He is married to journalist Anu Anand and lives in Delhi. This is the third in his Vish Puri series.

Cover and blurb:
I guess it’s a generic cover for the series, featuring the silhouette of the potbellied, bespectactled detective. The blurb brings an impression of known yet unknown. I feel I’ve read the story somewhere, yet this is the first time I’m reading Tarquin’s writing.

My thoughts on the book:
A crime fiction with an Indian detective written by a foreign author… how different! That’s what intrigued me about the book the most. The cover didn’t appeal, the blurb sounded more humorous than deadly as did the title, so the author’s background added to the little appeal of the humorous plot. I feel crime fiction needs four main things: pace in narration, a good detective, likely suspects and the motive.

Well, there is pace in narration when the case makes a head start, but till then it’s a little slow, and depending on the omnipresent humor to take it along. The sub-case, The Case of the Missing Moustache does make you chuckle, if not laugh out loud, and the introduction to the portly detective and his battle against the weighing scales was also fun.

Vish Puri, the portly unorthodox detective, witty and battling his wife (who calls him Chubby) to avoid a diet, taking on small cases to keep his brain active (reminded me a little of Holmes and his cocaine solution) is a treat to read. He has amusing nicknames for his staff, and very different ways to meet his clients. He has a passion for cricket, and this story has a cricket case in the making for him. Oh yes, he also has a moustache that he grooms to perfection, and is a member of the Moustache Organization of Punjab (MOP).

Suspects… well, this is a long case, and has a sub case, so we are taken on a ride at times by Tarquin, especially across the border. With the recent controversies that brewed in cricket, in the subcontinent, it felt right the way it ended. It felt predictable, but right. I guess you will enjoy this crime a little, though it might make you a little uneasy about butter chicken.

Motive… not sure about the main case, but the moustache case I felt had a seriously funny motive! So partly there yes.

I liked Puri’s character, and his Mummy ji’s character as well. The information on India and Pakistan is also well done. Overall, the book holds you in its humor. I liked it.

Rated a 7 on 10!
Rated a 7 on 10!

Book Details:
Title: The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken
Author: Tarquin Hall
Series: Vish Puri #3
ISBN: 978-0-09-956187-3
Genre: Crime Fiction / Humor
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR. 399

This book was given to me for review by Random House India. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

Shared with First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws.

(Sept 9th, 2013)


Poetry and writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

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