Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March
Narrator: Vikas Adam
Published by Macmillan Audio on November 10, 2020
Source: Purchased
Genres: Historical Mystery
Length: 16 hrs 2 mins
Pages: 389
Format: Audiobook
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three-half-stars

In 1892, Bombay is the center of British India. Nearby, Captain Jim Agnihotri lies in Poona military hospital recovering from a skirmish on the wild northern frontier, with little to do but re-read the tales of his idol, Sherlock Holmes, and browse the daily papers. The case that catches Captain Jim's attention is being called the crime of the century: Two women fell from the busy university’s clock tower in broad daylight. Moved by Adi, the widower of one of the victims — his certainty that his wife and sister did not commit suicide — Captain Jim approaches the Parsee family and is hired to investigate what happened that terrible afternoon.

But in a land of divided loyalties, asking questions is dangerous. Captain Jim's investigation disturbs the shadows that seem to follow the Framji family and triggers an ominous chain of events. And when lively Lady Diana Framji joins the hunt for her sisters’ attackers, Captain Jim’s heart isn’t safe, either.

Based on a true story, and set against the vibrant backdrop of colonial India.

I have a soft sport for historical mysteries, which is what drew me to Murder in Old Bombay. Overall it was an enjoyable novel, but at the same time I felt like it just kept dragging on.

Strengths:

  • Captain Jim Agnihotri is a good character. He’s part-English/part-Indian, has left the army for medical reasons, and loves Sherlock Holmes stories. He is intent on discovering the truth, regardless of the danger involved.
  • India in the 1890s is brought to life. The descriptions are vivid. The cultural, religious, and political tensions can be felt.
  • The characters are believable and you care about them.

Weaknesses:

  • The mystery is a bit convoluted and Jim always seems to guess right. It may not be easy to find or talk to who he wants to, but he never seems to just be wrong.
  • Way too much emphasis on the romance. And too much melodrama.
  • It seemed longer than it was. The middle section especially was slow.

If I had run into it as historical fiction, but expectations would have been different and I might have loved it. As a mystery, it was all over the place- mystery, romance, military, family drama. Hopefully, the sequel, which I read somewhere she’s working on, is more focused.

About Nev March

Author Nev March is the recent winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Award for Best First Crime Fiction.

After a long career in business analysis, in 2015 she returned to her passion, writing fiction, and now teaches creative writing at Rutgers-Osher Institute. A Parsee Zoroastrian herself, she lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons. Murder in Old Bombay is her debut novel.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

4 Comments

  • I’ve got this on reserve at the library. I do enjoy historical fiction set in India. Maybe this would not have dragged in book form? I am listening to The Goldfinch in the car and it consists of more than 30 CDs! The first few flew by but the story is now in a repetitive section that I would probably read faster in a book.

  • Laura Pond

    I have this book on my Kindle but if you say there was too much romance I probably won’t like it either. Thanks for the review.

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