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The Case of the Missing Servant: From the Files of Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator (Vish Puri #1)

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,607 Ratings  ·  916 Reviews
The first in a detective series that “immediately joins the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency as representing the best in international cozies” (Booklist, starred review).

Meet Vish Puri, India’s most private investigator. Portly, persistent, and unmistakably Punjabi, he cuts a determined swath through modern India’s swindlers, cheats, and murderers.

In hot and dusty Delhi, whe
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 20th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2003)
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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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 tha ...more
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
Jun 28, 2010 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Smita Beohar
Jul 02, 2009 Smita Beohar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Alyce (At Home With Books)
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
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
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
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,
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
Renita D'Silva
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.
In addition to being an interesting mystery (with a couple of side mysteries), the novel was full of the kind of writing that evokes a real experience for the senses. The smells, the sounds, the bright colors and the dingy back alleys, come to life.

The main character is so well described that one can see him sitting in a chair across the room. His self-confidence and arrogance are palpable. There were times when his arrogance made me grit my teeth, and I wanted to really dislike him, but it is
Apr 02, 2016 Tammy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Naomi Bayer
Jul 23, 2015 Naomi Bayer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perfect summer reading. Jeff Schaffer sent me this book in the sad depths of last fall and it has been sitting on my night table waiting for the right moment. Visiting my cousin in glorious relaxing Wellfleet proved to be the right moment. A sweet book, similar to the No. ! Ladies Detective Agency in pacing and style--but this one starring Vish Puri in India with all the traditions, sights, sounds, foods, dialects, family connections of Jaipur and Delhi. The white brit ex-pats do seem to have a ...more
Aug 03, 2009 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If Kim's Babuji became a private investigator in modern India, he'd sound a lot like this.
The good - this is a fun read. It's funny and I can pick up some info on Indian culture and politics.

The bad - I think that authors writing of a culture that is not their own, have a responsibility to present at least some of the characters of that culture in a respectful way. Tarquin Hall does not do that. My understanding is that he has lived in India a long time but he is not Indian and all his characters are. At least one of them should be presented as if he were a real person with real feel
Sep 22, 2009 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up with great hopes after reading To the Elephant Graveyard, but I'm afraid it didn't live up to my expectation. Vish Puri is more like Hercule Poirot than he is like Sherlock Holmes, and this first book in what is apparently going to be a series picks up on his career when he has already solved a good many mysteries. He is surrounded by a large cast of helpful family members and skillful employees, and he has already established a large collection of informers and people in high p ...more
Oct 28, 2009 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Need an exotic change of pace from mysteries set in Victorian London or Nowheresville, America? Has your favorite heroine been eating too many cheeseburgers? A trip to India is just the cure! Tarquin Hall emerses the reader into the rich culture and vibrant personalities in a modern day murder mystery - India style.

The lead character runs a detective agency with stylistic nods to Agatha Cristie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The humor is often tongue-in-cheek, poking at the inevitable bureaucracy,
Jun 12, 2013 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A private detective in an exotic location- seems to be a trend. Yet again, the author isn't a native of India although he lives there now - Shades Of Alexander Smith McCall and his detective Mma Precious. But India is much more complex than Botswana and Vishi Puri is a more well rounded character.

Vish Puri makes his living as a private detective - mostly investigating prospective brides and grooms for the many arranged marriages. But there will be the big cases that come his way. Here he is deal
Jul 14, 2012 Shantanu rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 08, 2011 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Private Investigator Vish Puri is also the managing director of ‘Most Private Investigators Ltd. A well respected and honest public litigator has been accused of killing Mary, his maidservant. Vish must also investigate a second case involving a potential bridegroom.

Vish’s character is perfect except he has an immense fear of flying. Luckily for Vish, he has a team of operatives that support him, especially his Mommy who conducts her own investigation.

There are actually three mysteries in the st
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
May 02, 2010 Lucinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 corr ...more
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 a ...more
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Discussion 7 74 Nov 22, 2014 01:58PM  
The Readers: Book #10; The Case of the Missing Servant - Tarquin Hall 2 29 Sep 18, 2013 10:49AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: The Case of the Missing Servant (Vish Puri 1) 1 2 Aug 27, 2012 12:04PM  
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  • The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra
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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 jo ...more
More about Tarquin Hall...

Other Books in the Series

Vish Puri (4 books)
  • The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing (Vish Puri, #2)
  • The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (Vish Puri, #3)
  • The Case of the Love Commandos (Vish Puri, #4)

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“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
“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” 0 likes
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