Nev March •
Murder in Old Bombay •
One glance at the cover of this book is enough to quicken the pulse of any Indophile: a gaudy market scene with carriages, pennants, donkeys, palm trees, saris, turbans, and a clock tower looming over the whole, all under a hazy golden sky. You can practically see the shimmering heat.
Captain Jim Agnihotri, wounded during a military campaign, is recovering in a Poona hospital where he devours Sherlock Holmes stories to pass the tedious days. Once released he resigns his cavalry commission and agrees to investigate two suspicious deaths. While doing so he fends off multiple attackers; disguises himself as a priest, a peanut vendor, and a drunken dockhand; befriends a band of ragamuffin outlaws; falls hopelessly in love; thwarts a slave-trafficking operation; and rescues soldiers stranded behind enemy lines. This is one busy guy.
Born to an Indian mother and an unknown British father, Captain Jim has a foot in both cultures but is fully trusted in neither. He was raised in a mission orphanage and saw most of his army comrades perish in the same Karachi battle that nearly did for him too. He has nothing left to lose. Or so he believes.
Old Bombay is told in the first person, lending immediacy to its action-packed story. We never know more than the narrator does, so we share in the thrill of his discoveries.
March captivates readers with all the glamour, intrigue, and political unrest of 1892 India while keeping us on the edge of our seats as the plot gallops from one adventure to another. The book clocks in at nearly 400 pages, but its brief chapters seem to fly by. What is really going on behind all these facades? Who can Jim trust?
I hope for a long, prolific career from Nev March.