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The Case of the Missing Servant (Vish Puri #1)

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  6,049 Ratings  ·  980 Reviews
Watch out Alexander McCall Smith! Here comes the first novel by the highly acclaimed writer Tarquin Hall in an entrancing new mystery series set in India.

The portly Vish Puri is India’s most accomplished detective, at least in his own estimation, and is also the hero of an irresistible new mystery series set in hot, dusty Delhi. Puri’s detective skills are old-fashioned in
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by McClelland & Stewart (first published January 1st 2003)
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Everyone Burns by John DolanThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithThe Coroner's Lunch by Colin CotterillThe Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin HallThe Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison
Best Multicultural Mysteries
4th out of 116 books — 129 voters
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha ChristieOne for the Money by Janet EvanovichDeath on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Best Detective/Mystery Series
199th out of 1,487 books — 1,736 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aug 16, 2013 Didi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m no expert when it comes to detective novels but when I read a good one I’m really happy about it and I just have to tell you guys about it. The Case of the Missing Servant ignited some kind of desire to read more detective novels, especially of its kind. What kind you may ask? Those that contain larger than life characters placed in the modern-day back drop of hustling and bustling India. All the elements for a captivating intrigue are present; starting with Vish Puri.... Go to http://didibo ...more
May 26, 2012 Poonam rated it it was ok
Having heard so much about the book, I was eager to read the book. However, I was rather disappointed. To be fair, let us just say, it was nothing out of ordinary for me.

Vish Puri (pun on Hindi phrase for your wish comes true)is 51-year old Punjabi, pot-bellied private detective. (He is being India's Poirot.) But the book more reminded me of Mma Ramotswe for its sheer draggy quality.

However, don't get me wrong, my perspective is biased, since Delhi is home - this stereotyped peculiarity that Pu
Mar 04, 2013 Leila rated it really liked it
Any fan of the Ladies No 1 Detective Agency (A McCall Smith) will find a new pleasure here. My mother recommended this author/series to me recently after reading The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken, which is book 3. I like to try and read these in order if I can, so Missing Servant starts it off. Not only is there an interesting mystery to be solved by Vish Puri, private investigator; you will learn so much without being hit over the head with it about Punjabi (and Indian) life. In the way ...more
Sep 20, 2016 Faith rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
This is the first book in the Vish Puri series, and it's the only one that I had not read. It's also the only book that I listened to rather than read. Unfortunately, it was not one of my favorites. I was hoping for more charm in the narration, but the reading was too slow paced for me and I didn't care for some of the female voices.

As usual there were several storylines running concurrently but none of them really grabbed me, and some of them had abrupt, unsatisfying conclusions. However, I di
Jul 17, 2016 Girish rated it liked it
A detective agency set in Delhi, a crime wrapped in the Indian masala alongside matrimony investigations and the pot bellied pakora crunching Indian Hercule Poirot in Vish Puri. The detective has a team of agents with nicknames such as Tubelight and Facecream. The detective skills, for all the monologue on history of detective skills, is not so spectacular and lot of hardwork. The book is a simple read and seems so normal to read. So much like watching TV detectives on candid camera.

Vish Puri is
Indrani Sen
May 29, 2016 Indrani Sen rated it really liked it
Shelves: india
Very highly recommended if you like Alexander McCall Smith and/or Agatha Christie.

This is a gem of a detective story based in Delhi. A thoroughly enjoyable read. This is the first book I have read of this author. I couldn't believe that he is not Indian. Except for perhaps one or two scenes, I felt that he has gotten India and Indians very well.

Jun 28, 2010 Lori rated it really liked it
It's funny how things find a strange way of lining themselves up. A few months ago, I came across an ARC copy of this novel at a local library sale. I flipped through it, read the back cover, and thought it sounded interesting. Once I got home, I stacked it up on my bookshelf with the other books I purchased that day, and there it sat... Until I met Lucinda, who with the authors literary agent, in NYC during the BEA.

She offered to have me host the author, Tarquin Hall, on TNBBC to discuss the no
Mar 06, 2012 Doreen added it
This is the debut appearance of the Punjabi detective, Vish Puri, founder of Delhi's Most Private Investigators, Inc.

A maidservant has gone missing, and a crusading layer has been accused of killing her. Puri sets out to prove the attorney's innocence. (Other more minor cases are also investigated.)

Puri is called the Punjabi Sherlock Holmes and, although he shares similarities with a number of fictional detectives, he has a charm all his own. He is clever and resourceful but with enough eccentri
Smita Beohar
Jul 02, 2009 Smita Beohar rated it really liked it
The Case of the Missing Servant

Author: Tarquin Hall
Publisher: Random House
Price: Rs. 430/-
Let me make myself very clear at the outset. I have never been a fan of who-dun-it novels by Indian Authors. The only one that I have liked in recent times was Krishnna’s Konfession & that too I attribute to the fact that it was chick-lit cum mystery novel. My last attempt at Indian thriller (though I must accept it wasmore of a love story) was “My Friend Sancho” by Amit Verma. The book though listed Ma
Susan in NC
Mar 30, 2011 Susan in NC rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book and hope there are many more to come - Vish Puri is a great hero! "Chubby" to his loving wife Rumpi, "Mummy-ji" and wonderfully mixed bag of friends and associates, he calls himself India's Most Private Investigator and his ego (rightfully) equals Poirot himself. Puri carefully records all of his cases at completion, as he is sure future generations will want to study his methods and even has the title picked out for his future memoirs: "Confidentiality Is My Watchword".

Puri is
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
An enjoyable read that held my attention throughout. I'm the sort of person that usually has 2-4 books on the go at any one time, but this one took precedence until I finished it.
The Boss of Most Private Investigations takes on the tough cases himself. Whether it's vetting a prospective bridegroom or upsetting a bogus charge of murder, Vish Puri grants his clients' wishes. He's no Sherlock Holmes (as he says, Holmes is fiction while he is "really real") so sometimes things don't go to plan, but
Julie  Durnell
Jun 07, 2016 Julie Durnell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I found this first in a series book absolutely wonderful-Vish Puri is the Punjabi equivalent of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. The local color and varied characters are spot on. I have not read a great deal of books set in India but I was so engrossed in this detective story that I must read further into Vish Puri's The Case of..... And kudos for the glossary in the back - that is a great help and so interesting!
Mar 27, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Christine
Just arrived from Tunisia through BM.

This is the first book of the series Vish Puri which meaning is "granter of wishes". He is the founder and director of Most Private Investigators Ltd.

The plot tells the story of a murder investigation in which a public litigator is accused of murdering his maidservant.

Richard Derus
There was a popular song during my youth by a band called 10cc. The chorus of this song was, "I'm not in love/so don't forget it/it's just a silly phase I'm goin' through...." India, books Indian in setting and theme, Indian food *dripdrool*, Hindu theology, henna tattoos, all objects of fascination for me and much of the American culture just now. Fairly soon, I understand we're to get our first Tatas on these shores. (Go Google "Tata.")

So what's a weentsy-teentsy little shoestring publishing h
Gav Reads
Nov 23, 2012 Gav Reads rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve found my new favourite detective. This time they are from India in the guise of portly, persistent and unmistakably Punjabi, private detective Vish Puri.

The Case of the Missing Servant is our first introduction to this ‘Indian Poriot.’ An established detective, with an web of contracts and employees, Puri is very much a conductor and ring master, though even he has problems with an interfering mother. As an introduction it works well. Hall gives us several threads to follow. Not only do we
Julie Davis
Bookmark goes undercover as a maid, while Popcorn is outside drinking tea from a crumpled paper cup. Scott and Julie enjoy their new Punjabi nicknames almost as much as they enjoyed The Case of the Missing Servant. This book discussion is Episode 63 at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

#68 - 2010.

I learned about this series from Mystery Scene magazine. A judiciously quirky Indian detective (meaning realistic) and his operatives on an introductory case which also introduces
May 23, 2011 Spuddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this thoroughly enjoyable first in series featuring PI Vish Puri in Delhi, India, you are not only introduced to a whole cache of fun and interesting characters but given a cultural tour of a middle-class Indian household as well. Puri is contacted by an old friend, a prominent lawyer who is being set up to take the fall for doing away with one of his former maidservants who disappeared a couple of months previously.

Puri and his crack team--whom he's given hilarious nicknames like Facecream,
Alyce (At Home With Books)
Jan 14, 2010 Alyce (At Home With Books) rated it really liked it
Imagine Sherlock Holmes in modern-day India, and you've got a good feel for what this book is like. The Case of the Missing Servant is written in such a way that it was as if I was listening to the characters voices speaking (in English of course) with Indian accents. I was very impressed by this writing which was so easy to read, yet captured the grammatical idiosyncrasies of Indians speaking English.

Vish Puri is an intelligent private investigator who is famous for solving crimes, yet also doe
Oct 13, 2010 Linda rated it really liked it
Delightful, even if Vish Puri is a pompous, sexist ass sometimes.
Set in contemporary Delhi, Puri is hired to find out what happened to a missing servant girl whom his client is accused of killing. One subplot has him investigating the prospective groom of his client's daughter, and the other has his mother investigating who is responsible for shooting at him.
All the plots were satisfying, the characterization deft, and there was plenty of dry humor, too. Bonus points for the extensive glossary
Tarquin Hall delights in spinning a mystery story that dances along amongst the sights and sounds and voices of India. Then suddenly we are pulled up sharp to bear witness to the exploitation and decimation of a community and environment. There, .... heart stops, shock registers, Hall has opened our eyes for a moment....then we're off again lightly traveling like a gawping tourist, eagerly awaiting a happy ending. Genius.

As Vish Puri juggles with time and geography to investigate 2 contrasting c
Aug 27, 2016 Angie rated it it was ok
Rather disappointed. I forced myself to finish it, hoping the denouement would redeem a pedestrian read, but it didn't, even though they were mildly unconventional.
It was compared to Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe, but I think the comparison is not valid except that both are detectives and several cases are included in one book.There is none of the lightness or nice observations on humanity that Smith includes, and the characters are not especially engaging.
The fascination of the anc
Apr 02, 2016 Tammy rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
At times I was confused with all of the different characters' names/nicknames and trying to remember who was who, but it was still an enjoyable and interesting read.
Renita D'Silva
Feb 08, 2016 Renita D'Silva rated it liked it
Loved this funny, entertaining and fast paced detective tale set in Delhi. Really liked Vish Puri. Looking forward to reading more of his escapades in the name of detection.
Aug 03, 2009 Laurie rated it it was amazing
If Kim's Babuji became a private investigator in modern India, he'd sound a lot like this.
Jul 12, 2012 Meg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Case of the Missing Servant is the first in the Vish Puri series by Tarquin Hall. This first installment is definitely a cozy mystery that reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. Vish Puri is a punjabi Poirot who is even more self inflated than the world’s favorite belgian detective. Puri soon finds himself with two more cases to solve - the truth about an honest lawyer’s missing servant, and a matrimonial investigation for one of Puri’s heroes.

Tarquin Hall’s strength in this novel
Sep 15, 2014 Tze-Wen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a week of emotionally charged books, I was ready to read something less serious, and it was right there and then that the colorful cover of Hall's novel beckoned to me. Spring has announced itself in the past few weeks, heating up my living room and forcing me to open up the curtain-less windows to a cacophony of happy chatting terrace loungers, soaking in the sun. When I closed my eyes, there were certainly moments that I could believe myself to be in dusty, crowded Delhi. If only I had ...more
Jul 14, 2012 Shantanu rated it it was ok
I've loaded my shelves with a lot of Indian detective fiction lately. There's Ray's entire set of Feluda stories with a lot of other novels. This one by Tarquin Hall was recommended by someone on Twitter and as it turns out, it isn't a bad book. I wanted to give it 2.5 stars but can't do that on Goodreads.

Tarquin's detective Vish Puri is a Delhi based punjabi detective who takes his job as seriously as he takes his chicken frankie. Tarquin has sketched Vish Puri's adventures in a bumbling, delh
Disclosure: I received this book as a Firstreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it.

This is the first of a series about Vish Puri, owner and operator of the Most Private Investigations office of New Dehli in India. He's already built a successful business, and bills himself as India's top private detective. While his bread-and-butter is investigating prospective bridegrooms in arranged marriages to determine if they're really suitable (and one of these investigations is a major subpl
May 02, 2010 Lucinda rated it really liked it
The Case of the Missing Servant (Simon & Schuster 2009) introduces Vish Puri, the portly Punjabi founder of Most Private Investigators Ltd., a detective agency in Delhi, India. Puri’s current case is the disappearance of a maid named Mary from the household of Ajay Kasliwal, a lawyer who targets corrupt government officials. A rumor is circulating that Kasliwal killed the maid after getting her pregnant, and Kasliwal is convince the smear campaign is retribution for his campaign against ...more
This type of mystery is what I call Mystery-Lite; not much to it, but it goes down easy.

Vish Puri, the Principle of The Most Private Investigator Ltd., is assisted by his crack team of undercover agents with corny nicknames like Handbrake, Facecream and Flush, in solving “The Case of The Missing Servant” (the title just about sums it up), in addition to a smaller case investigating the veracity of a potential husband for another client. The plot is not complicated, nor are the characters and th
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Discussion 7 75 Nov 22, 2014 10:58PM  
The Readers: Book #10; The Case of the Missing Servant - Tarquin Hall 2 31 Sep 18, 2013 07:49PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: The Case of the Missing Servant (Vish Puri 1) 1 2 Aug 27, 2012 09:04PM  
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Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has lived and worked throughout South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He is the author of The Case of the Missing Servant, dozens of articles, and three works of non-fiction, including the highly acclaimed Salaam Brick Lane, an account of a year spent above a Bangladeshi sweat shop in London’s notorious East End. He is married to Indian-born ...more
More about Tarquin Hall...

Other Books in the Series

Vish Puri (5 books)
  • The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing (Vish Puri, #2)
  • Evidence: A Short Story (Vish Puri, #2.5)
  • The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (Vish Puri, #3)
  • The Case of the Love Commandos (Vish Puri, #4)

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“per hour. Handbrake knew that he could keep up with the best of them. Ambassadors might look old-fashioned and slow, but the latest models had Japanese engines. But he soon learned to keep it under seventy. Time and again, as his competitors raced up behind him and made their impatience known by the use of their horns and flashing high beams, he grudgingly gave way, pulling into the slow lane among the trucks, tractors and bullock carts. Soon, the lush mustard and sugarcane fields of Haryana gave way to the scrub and desert of Rajasthan. Four hours later, they reached the rocky hills surrounding the Pink City, passing in the shadow of the Amber Fort with its soaring ramparts and towering gatehouse. The road led past the Jal Mahal palace, beached on a sandy lake bed, into Jaipur’s ancient quarter. It was almost noon and the bazaars along the city’s crenellated walls were stirring into life. Beneath faded, dusty awnings, cobblers crouched, sewing sequins and gold thread onto leather slippers with curled-up toes. Spice merchants sat surrounded by heaps of lal mirch, haldi and ground jeera, their colours as clean and sharp as new watercolor paints. Sweets sellers lit the gas under blackened woks of oil and prepared sticky jalebis. Lassi vendors chipped away at great blocks of ice delivered by camel cart. In front of a few of the shops, small boys, who by law should have been at school, swept the pavements, sprinkling them with water to keep down the dust. One dragged a doormat into the road where the wheels of passing vehicles ran over it, doing the job of carpet beaters. Handbrake honked his way through the light traffic as they neared the Ajmeri Gate, watching the faces that passed by his window: skinny bicycle rickshaw drivers, straining against the weight of fat aunties; wild-eyed Rajasthani men with long handlebar moustaches and sun-baked faces almost as bright as their turbans; sinewy peasant women wearing gold nose rings and red glass bangles on their arms; a couple of pink-faced goras straining under their backpacks; a naked sadhu, his body half covered in ash like a caveman. Handbrake turned into the old British Civil Lines, where the roads were wide and straight and the houses and gardens were set well apart. Ajay Kasliwal’s residence was number” 1 likes
“Handbrake found the drive to Jaipur that morning particularly frustrating. The new tarmac-surfaced toll road, which was part of India’s proliferating highway system, had four lanes running in both directions, and although it presented all manner of hazards, including the occasional herd of goats, a few overturned trucks and the odd gaping pothole, it held out an irresistible invitation to speed. Indeed, many of the other cars travelled as fast as 100 miles” 0 likes
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