L'édition de cet ISBN n'est malheureusement plus disponible.Afficher les exemplaires de cette édition ISBN
A STRANGER’S GAZE
Bombay, February 1921
On the morning Perveen saw the stranger, they’d almost collided. Perveen had come upon him half-hidden in the portico entrance to Mistry House. The unshaven, middle-aged man appeared as if he’d slept for several days and nights in his broadcloth shirt and the grimy cotton dhoti that hung in a thousand creases from his waist to his ankles. His small, squinting eyes were tired, and he exuded a rank odor of sweat mixed with betel nut.
A visitor to Mistry Law this early was rare. The firm was located in Fort, Bombay’s first settlement. Although the old wall had been taken down, the district was still a fortress of law and banking, with most openings between nine and ten.
Assuming the man was a sad-sack client, Perveen glanced down, not wanting him to feel overly scrutinized. The idea of a woman solicitor was a shock to many. But when Perveen glanced down, she was disconcerted to see the man wasn’t poor at all. His thin legs were covered by black stockings, and his feet were laced into scuffed black leather brogues.
The only place men wore British shoes and stockings with their dhotis was Calcutta, about twelve hundred miles away. Calcutta: the city that would always remind her of Cyrus.
As Perveen looked up, her alarm must have revealed itself. The man scuffled backward.
“Just a minute! Are you seeking Mistry Law?” she called as he rushed across the street.
Feeling perplexed, Perveen rapped on the door, which was opened moments later by Mustafa, the longtime butler in charge of Mistry House. The elderly man touched his heart and forehead in greeting before taking the tiffin box she’d brought with the day’s lunch. “Adab, Perveen-memsahib,” he said. “And where is your honorable father this morning?”
“He’s got Jayanth’s trial at the High Court. Mustafa, did you know someone was waiting in our doorway?”
He looked past her into the now-empty portico. “No. Where has he gone?”
“Across the street—he’s the man wearing the dhoti.” Perveen saw that the man was now standing in the shadow of a building.
Mustafa squinted. “Although dirty, he isn’t a beggar. Not with shoes.”
“Shoes and stockings,” Perveen pointed out.
“Had he knocked, I would have told him to come after ten. You are too busy first thing in the morning for such strangers—although I saw no appointments in the book today?”
Perveen noted the worry in his voice. Mustafa knew that it was a struggle for her to attract clients. “I didn’t book any appointments today because an old friend is sailing in from England. I’ll meet her when she arrives.”
Perveen smiled. “You must have checked today’s paper for the listing.”
The grizzled old man tilted his head downward, accepting the praise. “Yes, indeed. I’ll inform you when the London is unloading. And tell me, will your English friend come to Mistry House? I could prepare a small tea.”
“I think Alice will go to her parents’ home in Malabar Hill first—but perhaps she’ll visit soon.” Perveen surveyed the marble foyer, which was softly lit by lamps in gilded sconces. She would relish showing the Bombay Gothic building to her friend, Alice Hobson-Jones. The twenty-foot ceilings were a design feature of which Abbas Kayam Mistry, her late grandfather, had been especially proud. It always seemed as if her grandfather were watching from the long portrait guarding the entryway. His eyes, as inky black as his flat-topped fetah, were all knowing but not warm.
“I’ve got a load of papers to work through upstairs. I hope Pappa’s back for lunch because I’ve brought a very good one today.”
“He must win at court, Insha’Allah,” Mustafa said piously, “or he won’t have an appetite.”
“He loses very rarely!” Perveen said, although that morning’s case would be a hard one. Both she and Jamshedji had been quiet in the car coming in: he looking over his notes, she gazing out the window, thinking of their young client in jail a few miles away, wondering if this would be the day he was freed.
“Your father wins with his God-given ability to know the thoughts behind people’s faces,” Mustafa told her. “Mistry-sahib can read the judge’s face like a newspaper.”
Perveen sighed, wishing she had the same talent. She had no idea if the stranger was a lost soul or harbinger of serious trouble.
Putting the awkward incident aside, she trudged upstairs to address a half-done property contract on her side of the big mahogany partners’ desk. Legal paperwork was sometimes numbing, but the subtlety of one word could mean the difference between a client’s success and his ruin. Three years of reading law had built her understanding, but a half year working under her father had taught her to inspect each line backward and forward.
As the morning grew sunnier, she switched on the small electric fan that sat in a central window. Mistry House had been the first building on the block to pay for electric service, and due to its high cost, she was supposed to use it sparingly.
Perveen glanced out the window and down to the street. Fort’s twenty square miles were once the East India Company’s original fortified settlement. Now the district was known for the High Court and the many law offices around it. Nestled alongside the British and Hindu and Muslim law offices were a significant number owned by members of her own religious community, the Indian-born Zoroastrians. Although Parsis accounted for just 6 percent of Bombay’s total inhabitants, they constituted one-third of its lawyers.
Iranis—the Zoroastrian immigrants who had come from the nineteenth century onward—prided themselves on running superlative bakeries and cafés serving cuisine influenced by their ancient homeland of Persia. Such was Yazdani’s, the bakery-café across the street. The shop drew more than two hundred customers every day. This morning, the customers going in and out were working their way around a solitary obstacle.
It was the Bengali stranger. He’d left the place where she’d seen him earlier and set himself up in the shadow of the restaurant’s awning. This allowed him to face Mistry House without roasting in the sun.
Perveen felt a surge of apprehension and then reminded herself that she couldn’t be seen inside the second floor of Mistry House. From her perch, she had a bird’s-eye view.
In a corner of the office, a tall Godrej cabinet was Perveen’s alone. It held umbrellas, extra clothing, and the Bombay Samachar article touting her as Bombay’s first woman solicitor. She’d wanted to frame the news story and hang it on the downstairs wall along with Jamshedji Mistry’s many accolades. Her father had thought it too much to throw in the faces of clients who needed a gentle introduction to the prospect of female representation.
Perveen rummaged in the cabinet until she found her mother-of-pearl opera glasses. Back at the window, she adjusted the focus until the man’s sinister face appeared close up. He did not look like anyone she’d ever seen in Fort; nor could she remember seeing him in Calcutta.
Perveen laid down the opera glasses and turned to unopened letters from the previous day. A thick envelope engraved with a return address 22 Sea View Road topped the stack. An existing client was a priority. This client, Mr. Omar Farid, was a textile-mill owner who had succumbed to stomach cancer two months previously.
Perveen read the letter from the appointed estate trustee, Faisal Mukri. Mr. Mukri wanted her to make a change that would disrupt the estate settlement on which she’d been working. Mr. Farid had three widows, all of whom still lived together in his house, and a total of four children—a humble number of offspring for a polygynist, according to Jamshedji.
Mr. Mukri had written that all the widows wanted to give up their assets as donations to the family’s wakf, a charitable trust that provided funds each year to the needy while paying a dividend to specified relatives. While a man or woman certainly could donate wherever he or she desired, wakfs were assiduously monitored by the government in order to prevent fraud, and a sudden infusion of money might be cause for scrutiny. Perveen decided to speak with her father before responding to Mr. Mukri.
Perveen placed the offending letter on Jamshedji’s side of the desk as Mustafa came in with a small silver tray holding a cup of tea with two Britannia biscuits perched jauntily on the saucer. After a tiny sip of the hot, milky brew, she asked Mustafa, “Have you been out to the street?”
“I haven’t. Why?”
She couldn’t express her deep-seated worry, so she only said, “The man who was blocking the doorway has stationed himself across the street.”
“Lurking on Bruce Street!” From Mustafa’s grim expression, she thought he looked ready to grab his old Punjabi regiment rifle that he kept in a kitchen cabinet. “Shall I toss him to the Esplanade?”
“There’s probably no reason to. But if you want a look at him, try these.” Perveen went to the window, where she picked up the opera glasses. It took her a few minutes to show the elderly man how to adjust the lenses to his needs.
“Ay, such magical spectacles! One can see all over with these!”
“Aim toward Yazdani’s. Do you see him?”
“The man in the white dhoti.” Mustafa sighed. “Now I’m remembering he was nearby when I went outside to buy milk.”
“How early was that?”
“Usual time—twenty, thirty minutes before your arrival.”
This meant the man had been staking out their building for three hours straight.
Legally, he had the right to stand where he wanted. But Bruce Street was Perveen’s second home, and she felt anxious to know for whom the out-of-towner was waiting. Trying to sound matter-of-fact, she said, “I’ll walk over and ask why he’s there.”
Mustafa put down the glasses and looked at her with alarm. “You are a young lady alone. I should be the one to send that badmash packing.”
Perveen regretted pulling Mustafa into her worries. “Please stay. There are so many people around that nothing could happen.”
Still grumbling about danger to young ladies, Mustafa followed her downstairs. He opened the heavy door with great ceremony. Scowling dramatically, he remained on the marble step after she went out.
A bullock cart rolled past, and Perveen took advantage of its cover to cross the street unnoticed. As she came up in front of the Bengali, he acknowledged her arrival with a sharp upward movement of his face. Then he pivoted away, as if meaning to hide himself.
“Good day to you, sahib. Do you work nearby?” Perveen asked politely in Hindi.
“Nah-ah-ah!” his answer came in the form of a raspy cough.
“Sahib, are you waiting for someone on Bruce Street?”
“Nah!” He responded fast this time and glared at her with his bloodshot eyes.
Striving to keep her voice steady, she spoke again: “Do you know Cyrus Sodawalla?”
His mouth opened, revealing crooked, paan-stained teeth. He stood still for a moment—and then he ran.
Perveen stared after him in dismay. She’d hoped he’d say no. She had anticipated a flat denial, not a departure.
“Huzzah!” Mustafa was waving his arms side to side, as if she’d bowled a perfect cricket score.
Perveen felt too shaken to return to Mustafa. She waved back at him and decided to venture inside Yazdani’s.
Lily Yazdani was working behind the counter. The fourteen-year-old’s long hair was tied up with a traditional mathabana cloth, and she wore a snowy apron over a pretty yellow sari. She beamed at the appearance of Perveen.
“Kem cho, Perveen!” Lily called out a greeting in Gujarati.
“Good morning to you, Lily! And why aren’t you in school?”
“A water pipe burst yesterday, so it’s closed.” Lily drew the corners of her lips down in an exaggerated frown. “I’m missing two tests.”
Perveen winced. “I hope Mistry Construction isn’t at fault. I believe the company built your school.”
“Who cares about the pipe? I’d rather be here baking cakes with my pappa.”
Perveen was sorry to hear this. She had a nagging anxiety that Lily would leave high school too early.
Firoze Yazdani emerged from the kitchen, his round face damp from heat. Wiping floury hands on his apron, he said, “What is your pleasure today, my dear Perveen? The dahitan were fried an hour ago and are soaking in sweet rose syrup. And of course, there are the cashew and almond fudges, and the pudding and custard cups.”
Because of her inward agitation, Perveen didn’t think she could force anything sweet down her throat without gagging. At the same time, she couldn’t walk away without a purchase. “I’m welcoming an old friend from England at Ballard Pier later on today, so I’d like you to pack me a small box of your prettiest dahitan.”
“Most beautiful and sweet. Just like you!” Firoze’s wide grin split his face like a cracked persimmon.
“By the way—did you serve a fellow from outside Bombay this morning?”
Firoze looked puzzled, but Lily spoke up. “We had a dark and grumpy customer with a funny accent. He bought a date-nut cake and some almond fudge. I told him he could sit at a table, but he went outside.”
“He stayed outside for a few hours,” Perveen said. “I asked him something, and he ran away as if I were a nasty British policeman!”
“Probably he arrived on the overnight train because he seemed quite tired,” Lily reflected. “He asked in the funniest accent what time law offices opened up in this area. I said nine o’clock for most firms and half nine if it’s the Mistrys.”
2019 American Library Association Reading List for Mystery: Winner and Top Pick
Winner of the 2019 Mary Higgins Clark Award
Winner of the 2019 Lefty Award for Best Historical Novel
Winner of the the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel
Finalist for the 2019 Shamus Award
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018
An ABA IndieNext Selection
A Washington Post Best Audiobook of 2018
A WBUR On Point Best Book of 2018
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2018
A Times of India Best Book of 2018
An Apple iTunes Most Anticipated Book of 2018
#2 on Cosmopolitan’s 33 Books to Get Excited About in 2018
The Bookseller (UK) Editor’s Pick for Mystery
Praise for The Widows of Malabar Hill
“The Widows of Malabar Hill, with its deft prose and well-wrought characters, is a splendid first installment in what promises to be a memorable series."
—Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal
"Marvelously plotted, richly detailed . . . This is a first-rate performance inaugurating a most promising series."
—The Washington Post
"Perveen Mistry has all the pluck you want in a sleuthing lawyer, as well as a not-so-surprising—but decidedly welcome—proclivity for poking her nose into the business of others. The pages do indeed fly."
—Marissa Stapley, The Globe and Mail
"The Widows of Malabar Hill contains multitudes, tackling women’s history and rights, while treating readers to a riveting story."
—The National Post
"Perveen’s dogged pursuit of truth and justice for her clients is reminiscent of the debuts of Anne Perry’s Charlotte Ellison Pitt and Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs. But the multicultural, multi-faith milieu in which Perveen lives, works and attempts to find love both illuminates a bygone era and offers a thoughtful perspective relevant to today’s focus on women’s rights and equality."
—Paula L. Woods, Los Angeles Times
"Cool and cunning."
—The Boston Globe
"A fascinating setting, an extraordinary new sleuth, and a story that enthralls you—The Widows of Malabar Hill has all three and more. Sujata Massey's new historical series is absolutely terrific, and you are just going to love Perveen Mistry, India's first female lawyer."
—Charles Todd, bestselling author of the Ian Rutledge series and the Bess Crawford series
"Perveen Mistry is an extraordinary heroine—one of the first female lawyers in India, she’s whip smart, strong-willed, and, most importantly, compassionate. Defying convention while draped in a sari, Perveen is sure to join the leads of great mystery fiction."
—Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope mysteries
"You get a mystery but you also get all the cultural details. I like that."
—NBC New Day Northwest
"I've been complaining for several years now that we don't have enough competent female leads in mystery series, and Sujata Massey has delivered with The Widows of Malabar Hill. I was taken in by this Law and Order-esque tale set in lush, swing-era Bombay, and I loved seeing Perveen proceed with a cool head and a fiery heart. Readers looking for a strong female heroine, a vivid setting and a strange mystery will find it here."
—The News Tribune
"There’s so much to admire in Massey’s writing: sumptuous details, attention to the senses and a tightly-plotted mystery that explores domains beyond normal trials and tribulations. It’s writing that’s easy to take for granted, but as we know, anything that easy is deceptively hard."
"Massey deftly evokes the sights, the sounds, and the heat of Bombay as her clever and determined heroine, aided by a large supporting cast of sharply-drawn characters, sidesteps both custom and danger to deliver justice."
—Vannessa Cronin, The Amazon Book Review
"Massey's extensive research of Bombay during British imperial rule, its various ethnic communities and their respective legal customs, is seamlessly folded into the fabric of the story. The book is filled with fascinating bits of culture and history, a look at India's Parsi and Muslim communities, well-written courtroom scenes, and even a locked-room murder."
—Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
"A spectacular mystery to kickstart your year."
"Perveen is the kind of plucky, determined, practical, wounded, ahead-of-her-time protagonist an avid clique of mystery readers adore. She is destined to find a home with fans of like-minded female investigators such as Mary Russell and Maisie Dobbs, whose creators, like Massey, deftly anchor their solid plots in the realities, and challenges, of their times."
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"I can’t wait to see what happens next."
—Crime Time (UK)
"A sneaky feminist masterpiece wrapped up in a cozy whodunit . . . just genius."
—WBUR's On Point
"[A] setting and protagonist are like nothing I’ve encountered in a mystery before: 1920s Bombay and one of India’s first female lawyers, who’s 'devoted to championing and protecting women’s rights.'"
—BookRiot's "44 Mystery Romance Novels to Read Right Now"
"A compelling look into Indian society through the eyes of a remarkable heroine."
—Read or Dead podcast
"[An] outstanding series launch . . . The period detail and thoughtful characterizations, especially of the capable, fiercely independent lead, bode well for future installments."
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"[Massey] does a wonderful job of taking life in India at the beginning of the 20th century. She gives enough cultural details without overwhelming readers with facts. The two plotlines wonderfully depict the development of the main character and the mystery as it unfolds . . . Fresh and original."
—Library Journal, Starred Review
"In addition to getting an unusual perspective on women’s rights and relationships, readers are treated to a full view of historical downtown Bombay—the shops and offices, the docks and old fort, and the huge variety of conveyances, characters, and religions—in an unforgettable olio that provides the perfect backdrop to the plot and subplots. Each of the many characters is uniquely described, flaws and all, which is the key to understanding their surprising roles in the well-constructed puzzle."
—Booklist, Starred Review
"[A] highly original story and satisfying ending make this a promising series debut."
—Mystery Scene Magazine
"History and culture blend in an involving and fast-paced mystery . . . Perveen is a fascinating character—smart, resourceful, ready to take on prejudices against women in the law."
—St. Paul Pioneer Press
"[A] lush, captivating debut series about 1920s Bombay."
"An enticing and enlightening whodunit that addresses social issues and India’s multiple cultures."
"There is a new sleuth on the literary map and her name is Perveen Mistry, practicing woman lawyer, feminist, survivor of abuse and solver of murder mysteries. In The Widows of Malabar Hill, Sujata Massey brings 1920s Bombay to life, a time when the British still ruled, single women were not served alcohol in restaurants and there was murder most foul. With an indomitable heroine and a solid cast of sidekicks, this is the start of a series mystery readers should not miss."
—Amulya Malladi, bestselling author of A House for Happy Mothers and The Copenhagen Affair
"Perveen is strong, tenacious and smart, just the kind of advocate you'd want to have on your side. And as someone who was born and raised in the city, I love the way in which Massey recreates colonial Bombay, down to the architecture, social interactions,politics and gender dynamics. You can feel the breeze coming off the Arabian Sea and taste the pastries at Yazdani's bakery."
—Radha Vatsal, author of A Front Page Affair
"Introducing an incisive, sympathetic heroine with a painful past while shedding light on a fascinating cloistered historical world, The Widows of Malabar Hill is not only immediately engaging—it has staying power."
—Lyndsay Faye, Edgar-nominated author of Gods of Gotham and Jane Steele
"Perveen Mistry is a rarity: a female solicitor in a bastion of masculinity! An astonishing heroine—fearless, intelligent and determined—she makes a memorable debut in Sujata Massey’s The Widows of Malabar Hill. A gripping whodunnit, full of excitement and heart, the novel also delightfully evokes Bombay in the 1920s—and celebrates the Parsi community that continues to enrich their beloved city."
—Bapsi Sidhwa, author of Ice Candy Man and Water
"Sujata Massey is one of the most talented writers working today. In her hands, 1920s Bombay comes alive with the sounds, sights and smells of a place and time where women were still second class citizens. Perveen Mistry is an unforgettable heroine, fighting for justice in an enigmatic, beautiful and flawed world. With gorgeous prose, Massey weaves a captivating mystery. The Widows of Malabar Hill is an extraordinary novel."
—Allison Leotta, author of The Last Good Girl
"Wonderful . . . A rich blend of history and fiction, [The Widows of Malabar Hill] brings historical Bombay to vibrant life in this engaging mystery."
—The Seattle Review of Books
"One of the great joys of this novel is the life Massey brings to Bombay, which in her telling is a truly stunning chaos of peoples, cultures and religions."
—The Colonial (Montgomery County)
"Exciting and suspenseful . . . [The Widows of Malabar Hill] features Massey’s literary strength in dynamic character development and lyrical prose."
"The moment we heard about Perveen, India's first woman lawyer who solves crimes, we knew we had to get our hands on this book. And The Widows of Malabar Hill didn't disappoint. Sujata Massey paints a beautiful historical landscape of 1920s Bombay and the many cultures living there at the time."
—Reading Women Podcast
"A tightly-crafted mystery, a vividly-drawn multicultural setting, and a plucky heroine fiercely taking on the challenges of her time."
—Modern Mrs. Darcy
"Certain to please a wide range of readers . . . [Perveen Mistry] won’t take no for an answer, she’s hungry for knowledge and justice, and she’s on her way to making history."
—India Currents Magazine
—The Times of India
"The Widows of Malabar Hill is an exquisite tapestry weaving together mystery with a crash course in colonial India, its customs, and the expectations of women in the 1920s . . . It also brings you the sights, smells, and tastes of 1920s India (which may make you crave coconut rice at 2 a.m.)"
—The Asian Age
"Perveen Mistry is a terrific heroine."
—New York Journal of Books
"A fascinating look behind the curtain of women’s lives in pre-Independence India."
—Historical Novel Society
"Perfect for fans of Vaseem Kahn's Inspector Khan series . . . A super book."
—Robert Daws, Partners in Crime Podcast
"A fascinating series opener."
—Stop! You're Killing Me
"The mystery is a strong one because readers must acquaint themselves with this unfamiliar world in order to piece together what happened. And what can I say about the setting? Massey pulled me right into this world, and I was almost on sensory overload. The old ways versus the new. Bombay's rapid growth into a vibrant major city. The various political, religious, and social factions that chafed against each other on a daily basis. And one woman, with the support of her parents, who's strong enough to stand up for what's right. A+"
"Well written, highly detailed, and engaging, THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL shows Massey's extensive writing experience, as well as an acute eye for human frailty and conflict. I'm glad to note from her material that there's a sequel on the way."
"The Widows of Malabar Hill is a gorgeous epic, a significant statement on women's rights, a fascinating armchair tour, and, yes, a thriller of a murder mystery."
—Reviewing the Evidence
"I could envision this series being televised by the BBC or Masterpiece: Mystery! (Hint, hint.)"
—Over My Dead Body
"Perveen Mistry is a wonderful creation."
—Books to the Ceiling (blog)
—The Teal Mango
"A fascinating setting and great characters."
"Rich with culture and customs of different facets of Indian society . . . It’s like I could imagine the traffic on the street—it was that vivid."
"The Widows of Malabar Hill introduces you to Perveen Mistry, a feminist character you will instantly fall in love with . . . The plot tackles gender equality, religious tolerance and communal harmony and that is what makes the character a true inspiration."
"Launches Sujata Massey’s new historical mystery series in fine style . . . The Widows of Malabar Hill shows that Massey has been inspired both by her newest creation and her setting, with the promise of a great series to come."
—MADReads, the review of the Madison Public Library
"A refreshingly original mystery . . . What comes through most strongly in this entertaining work, though, is the status of women, and how much Perveen had to accomplish to get where she is."
—Reading the Past blog
Praise for Sujata Massey
“Beautifully constructed and highly emotional. Massey’s knowledge of Japanese antiques and downtown D.C. enhances the story.”
“A sprightly, engaging tale by setting a classic English-style whodunit in contemporary Japan . . . This young, hip, sake-sipping sleuth leads a reader into a Tokyo that doesn’t make the guidebooks . . . Sly, sexy an...
Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
Description du livre Soho Crime, 2018. Etat : New. book. N° de réf. du vendeur M1616957786_11
Description du livre Soho Crime, 2018. Hardcover. Etat : New. Brand New!. N° de réf. du vendeur VIB1616957786