The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
In 1921 Bombay Perveen Mistry is the only female solicitor in all of India. She is not allowed to try a case in court but she is able to deal with all the legal paperwork that makes up most of a law firm’s business. Being female does prove to be an asset to her family’s law firm however. As a woman she is allowed to meet with the three Muslim widows of Mr. Omar Farid who are currently living in full purdah, strict seclusion in the women’s quarters of their home refusing any contact with men, to consult with them about the state of their inheritance. Perveen uncovers some disturbing information about the estate of Mr. Farid and her suspicions that something is not right are confirmed when a murder is committed on the grounds.
This is a fascinating mystery giving a glimpse into different religious groups and the varied beliefs within some of these groups. I’m unfamiliar with the time period and area of the world and found it so interesting to learn about this time and place through this mystery. Perveen is a lady stuck between her home where her parents are quite modern in their views (they sent their daughter to England for schooling to become a solicitor after all!) and Bombay where the old ways are constantly clashing with the changes coming to India. The tension between the British and Indian populations is touched on in the novel and I’m sure it will be focused upon more in the sequels, the next set to come out later in 2019.