Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall

Tarquin Hall has struck gold again with another installment of super-sleuth Vish Puri. This time Puri takes it upon himself to investigate the mysterious death of renowed Guru-Buster, Dr. Suresh Jha. Dr. Jha spends his time debunking the multitude of swamis and godmen who prey upon India's vulnerable. A rationalist by nature and training, he deplores the fact that his fellow Indians will believe almost anything. But one morning while participating in a regular session of the Rajpath Laughing Club, the goddess Kali, apparently angered by Dr. Jha's mockery of her power, appears and plunges a sword into his heart. Or does she? That is the question that Detective Puri simply must investigate.
And so begins another of Vish Puri's adventures in which we find him travelling to Delhi's Shadipur slum to learn from the city's magicians and also to Haridwar on the Ganges. Suspecting that things may not be as they appear he sends one of his "operatives", Facecream, to infiltrate the Abode of Eternal Love, the ashram of a prominent swami known as Maharaj Swami. Maharaj not only has a huge cult following but there was a mysterious death of a young woman at his ashram in recent months.
And as if that isn't enough excitement, Puri must deal with family troubles and the impending birth of a grandchild. All the while, his mommy-ji and Rumpi, Puri's devoted wife are super-sleuthing themselves, trying to solve a robbery.

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing was better than Hall's first offering in several ways. The focus is not so much on Puri whom Hall was developing as a character in the first book but has expanded to other lesser characters such as Facecream. Although not as openly humourous as The Case of the Missing Servant, Puri's second adventure is much more exciting. Some of the twists are predictable, but I felt the storyline was better developed in this second book. In the end I was satisfied that Vish Puri had solved yet another dastardly crime and in fact did some "guru-busting" of his own.

I can't wait for the next book. I recommend this book to fans of mysteries who like something a little different and more genteel.

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