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The Widows of Malabar Hill

(Perveen Mistry #1)

by
3.93  ·  Rating details ·  14,224 ratings  ·  2,367 reviews
Bombay, 1921: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father's law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's rights.

Mistry Law is handling the will of Mr. Oma
...more
Hardcover, 385 pages
Published January 9th 2018 by Soho Press
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Popular Answered Questions
Springtime7 I would say it is in between, as characters feelings and problems are described in more detail than Christie's.
…more
I would say it is in between, as characters feelings and problems are described in more detail than Christie's.
(less)
Behzad I'm a parsi and even I don't know what 'dahitan' is. Neither does anyone in my family.

I haven't read the book yet but it's described as fried and dip…more
I'm a parsi and even I don't know what 'dahitan' is. Neither does anyone in my family.

I haven't read the book yet but it's described as fried and dipped in rose water?

If so the closest thing that comes to mind is Gulab Jamun. Gulab Jamun isn't strictly a Parsi dish, Indians all over enjoy it. It does have origins in Persian cusuine tho (where Parsis originally came from).

It's strange tho that this obscure dish (or name of) is what the author chose. Tho perhaps it was more popular during the time the story is set in.(less)

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Annet
Loved this book! What a pleasant surprise and new writer for me, Sujata Massey, talented. I read this book during December and just finished in the days off from work. A great view on India in the 1920s, an interesting and rather grim view on the position of women then and there and a great heroine, the first female lawyer Preveen Mistry in India, handling a sensitive case and trying to solve the murders included. 4.7+ so the first five star this year, what a start. This book was longlisted in t ...more
Julie
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey is a 2018 Soho Press publication.

Set in 1920s Bombay, Perveen Mistry, is one of the first female lawyers in India. Although she works in her father’s law firm, as a woman she isn’t allowed to argue a case in court.

But, when a wealthy mill owner dies, his three widows, who are practitioners of Purdah, express a desire to donate their inheritance to charity. As the executor of his will, this development raises Perveen’s suspicions. She decides a visit
...more
Tammy
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very well done old-fashioned historical novel and my first experience with Massey. Perveen is the only female practicing lawyer in 1921 Bombay. She is unable to argue cases in court due to the strictures of the time and instead works as a solicitor for her father’s practice. At its heart, this is a murder mystery and a good one. There is a bit of a dual timeline but it doesn’t occur every other chapter so the novel flows more smoothly than other books that have used this device.

Perve
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Ingrid
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five big fat stars for this book that I just LOVED! A whodunnit situated in India in the 1920's with a female lawyer as main character. It's fast paced and has lots of interesting information. I hope #2 will be published very soon!
Karl
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
2019 Best Private Eye Novel - Shamus Award Nominees:

• Wrong Light, by Matt Coyle (Oceanview)
• What You Want to See, by Kristen Lepionka (Minotaur)
• The Widows of Malabar Hill, by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
• Baby’s First Felony, by John Straley (Soho Crime)
• Cut You Down, by Sam Wiebe (Quercus)

Reading and then reviewing a book are oh so subjective. In Sujata Massey’s book “The Widows of Malabar Hill” Ms. Massey combines mystery with historical fiction giving us the reader an examination of the c
...more
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
I struggled with this book and it came perilously close to a DNF. Only my interest in the character of Perveen - lawyer/female gumshoe/fighter for women's rights- enabled me to pick up this book again.



This book had a major stylistic fault.I hate flashbacks at this best of times and the flashbacks in this novel overwhelmed the mystery - and the mystery is what I signed up for. Ms Massey may have done this because the whodunnit part of this novel is very slight. Just not enough meat
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Carolyn
Also published as The Widows of Malabar Hill, this is an engaging murder mystery set in Bombay in 1921. Preveen Mistry, the first female solicitor in Bombay has joined her father at Mistry Law. With women not yet admitted to the bar in Bombay, she can't appear in court but is able to prepare contracts and wills and interview witnesses for her father. When a wealthy muslim man with three wives dies, Preveen notices something odd about a letter sent to Mistry Law about what the widows want to do w ...more
Sarah
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“As the only female lawyer in Bombay, you hold a power that nobody else has,” a British government official tells Perveen Mistry in this first of a refreshingly original mystery series – and he’s right. It’s 1921, and Perveen is a solicitor in her father’s law firm. Even though she can’t appear in court, her position and gender mean she’s the only individual with the means to look into a potential instance of deception and fraud.

A Muslim mill-owner's three widows, who live in purdah with their c
...more
Alice Lippart
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
Loved the setting, characters, the mystery and the time period.
Cathy Cole
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having been a fan of Sujata Massey's award-winning Rei Shimura mystery series, I was thrilled to hear about this first Perveen Mistry mystery set in 1920s Bombay, India. There are two interwoven timelines in The Widows of Malabar Hill. One is present-day Bombay in 1921 which shows us Perveen working hard to become an integral part of her father's law firm. The second timeline takes us back to 1916 so we can learn what happened to Perveen to make her the woman she is five years later.

The story it
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Brenda
Perveen Mistry, one of the first female lawyers in India, had recently joined her father’s law firm. It was Bombay, 1921 and Perveen felt justified after all she had been through, in finally achieving her dream. Mistry Law was handling the affairs of Mr Omar Farid who had not long passed, and Perveen was drawn into helping her father deal with the three widows and their children who’d been left on Farid’s death. Her suspicions were roused by certain abnormalities in the papers she was going thro ...more
Cheryl
Jul 13, 2018 added it
Will refrain from rating as I abandoned mission on this one. Can see how others might find the time, setting, plot line and premise delightful (think Maise-Dobbs-Goes-to-India), but I found the writing too light and trite when there are a gazillion wonderful books waiting for me.
Kavita
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Perveen Mistry is a solicitor, preparing herself for the day when women would be allowed to the Bar. Working with her father, she comes across a mysterious case in which three Muslim women, widows of the same man, want to donate away their inheritance to a wakf (Islamic trust). Curious about the case and worried about the women, who lived behind the purdah and had no contact with the outside world, Perveen decides to explore the case deeply. This gets her into a lot of trouble, and embroils her ...more
Charlsa
I can see how many people would enjoy this series. It fell a bit flat for me. It read like a Nancy Drew mystery to me. I've upgraded my rating from two to three stars. I started thinking about it more, and I realized that because I listened to this book, I was influenced by the narrator's voice for the characters. As I said, it felt like a Nancy Drew mystery to me. I think that was due to the narrator. If I had read it, I think that the story of the widows and Perveen's own story of oppression w ...more
Kari Ann Sweeney
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I loved the setting and time period- 1920's Bombay. The main character was a strong, smart, complicated female and the first female lawyer to boot. The mystery kept me guessing as well. Perhaps what I appreciated most was the education I received about Indian culture and laws during this time period.

Was this a knock-my-socks off book? No. But it sure was an escape! And it would make for great conversation.
Susan
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This novel is set in India, in 1921, although the story also goes back a few years, to 1916. The main character is Perveen Mistry, one of the first female lawyers in India, who works for her father’s law firm. Normally, Perveen works in the office, but when there is a case with three widows, who seem all too willing to sign over their inheritance, and who live in secluded purdah, then Perveen seems to be perfectly placed to infiltrate that most female world and investigate what is going on, whil ...more
Jeanette
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a difficult review/ reaction to compose. Because I wanted to give this one more than a 3 star. Perveen Mistry is a terrific character. She's multi faceted and interesting in both a self-identity and expressive style sense. She's logical, and very smart. And up against severe and diverse restriction, tradition, culture, tribal based and religious finely drawn strictures. All of those.

And it also taught me quite a bit within this length of read about the Parsi minority populations in India
...more
K.J. Charles
A really cracking atmospheric historical murder mystery set in 1920s Bombay with an Oxford-educated female solicitor dealing with three widows and the man who's trying to exploit them. Lots of atmosphere and local colour, fascinating and horrifying on the many traditions besetting women of all religions, and a nice murder plot along with a haunting backstory for our heroine. Terrific stuff, I hope there will be many more in this series.
Judith E
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This mystery is a perfect vehicle to learn about the diverse cultures, religious sects, marriage traditions, treatment of women, legal system, and delicious-sounding Indian cuisine, in Bombay and Calcutta, India.

A quick read revolving around three Muslim widows practicing purdah and the confusing inheritance of their late husband’s estate. The plot and characters are a means to the presentation of the very interesting historical platform. Enjoyable and recommended. 3.75 stars.
Marianne
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Murder At Malabar Hill, also titled The Widows of Malabar Hill, is the first book in the Perveen Mistry series by award-winning British-born American author, Sujata Massey. Bombay in 1921 may not be ready for a female lawyer, but Jamshedji Mistry has given his daughter an education and Preveen Mistry is determined to contribute to Mistry Law. If catering to women needing legal services gives their firm an edge, then she will embrace that.

When Omar Farid dies, he leaves three widows. Perveen i
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Amy


I really like this book and I am not entirely sure why. It walks a fine line between a slightly corny cozy mystery and extremely intense historical fiction. At times the contrast gave me whiplash. But in the end, I think it works. Which is quite impressive.

The story follows Perveen Mistry, the only female solicitor in 1920s Bombay, India. She works with her supportive Father and mostly does paperwork. When she notices some irregularities in a letter allegedly written by a recently deceased Musl
...more
Lynn
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-reads-2018
Sujata Massey was a new author for me. I enjoyed The Widows of Malabar Hill very much. The location is Bombay, India in 1921 to flashbacks to Calcutta 1916-1917. Perveen Mistry is the first female lawyer in India. She was educated in Oxford but can not represent clients in court. She works in her father law office.

Her father is representing the estate of Omar Farid who is a wealthy Muslim mill owner. He has left three widows who are living in purdah which is total seclusion. They do not leave th
...more
tamar
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to become invested in The Widows of Malabar Hill, by Sujata Massey, but, thanks to a little encouragement from Julie, I persevered - and I'm so glad I did! There are two separate and interesting stories to be followed - both involving a young Parsi Solicitor, Perveen Mistry, the first woman Solicitor in Bombay, circa 1920. Perveen joins her father’s successful law practice after studying in Oxford. TWMH describes two religious law cases. The first case involves the will of a d ...more
Carol (Reading Ladies)
3.5 stars (round up) ...
Even though I appreciate the setting of 1920s Bombay and learning about another culture, the story develops slowly. Although it’s categorized as a mystery, the mystery is not revealed until about the 50% mark. There are many storylines and the mystery is just one of them. The main reason I persisted with this is because it is one of Modern Mrs Darcey’s top summer picks. The story picks up the pace at about 75%. It’s definitely a character driven story.

What I liked:
* the
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Rajat Ubhaykar
Fantastic blend of historical fiction and murder mystery, featuring a headstrong Parsi protagonist who's on her way to becoming the first woman lawyer to practice in Bombay. Highly recommended!
Janelle
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I really enjoyed this unusual murder mystery set in Bombay in 1921.
The main character Perveen Mistry is a female lawyer and the second timeline 5 years earlier tells of her failed marriage and her path to legal studies. The story never gets bogged down in legal procedures regarding wills etc and also presents lots of different cultures, religions, customs and practices in an easy informative way.
Perveen is a strong character and I look forward to the next book in the series.
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
This is the first in a mystery series featuring Perveen Mistry, the first female lawyer in Bombay (based on the real firsts, Camelia Sorabji and Mithan Tata Lam) set in the 1920s. Perveen is 23, has read law at Oxford, and is employed in her father’s firm as no one else would employ her. She isn’t a member of the Bar since this is still not permitted at that point. Her father’s firm is appointed to execute the will of one Omar Farid, a wealthy mill-owner who was their client. On his death, he ha ...more
Barb in Maryland
3.5 stars for the first in s new series by the author.

I really liked the mystery, the setting(1921 Bombay), our heroine--just about everything in the main storyline. Young lawyer Perveen is a delight; I enjoyed watching her deal with her wily fox of a father. I am happy to see her good friend Alice again (introduced in the prequel novella 'Outnumbered at Oxford'). The mystery was clever--process of elimination gave me the killer, but not the 'why' of the murder.
However, I had mixed feelings abo
...more
Melissa
4.5, rounded up to 5
What a charming mystery! This is so different from the books I normally read and I just loved it. The story’s heroine is the first female solicitor in Bombay, India in the 1920’s. The character is based on the real-life first female solicitor. The story is about 3 widows who observe purdah....a type of seclusion after the death of their husband where they are not to be seen by men. Perveen, the heroine, is a solicitor who is helping them through the details of their husband’s
...more
Sahitya
I really can’t recall how but I just somehow stumbled upon the sequel of this book when it released a couple of months ago, and was pleasantly surprised to know that a pre-independence era India historical mystery series existed. It instantly captured my attention and I decided I had to start at the beginning, and I’m so happy I did.

I don’t think I’ve read many historical books set in India, especially ones which don’t have anything to do with the freedom struggle. This was such a contrast becau
...more
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Bradford Library: Discussion - The Widows of Malabar Hill 5 11 Mar 24, 2020 04:27PM  
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Sujata Massey is the author of historical and mystery fiction set in Asia. She is best known for the Perveen Mistry series published in the United States by Soho Press and in India by Penguin Random House India. THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL, the first Perveen novel, was named a Best Mystery/Thriller of 2018 and also an Amazon Best Mystery/Thriller of 2018. Additionally, the book won the Bruce Alexan ...more

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