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The Widows of Malabar Hill

(Perveen Mistry #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  23,694 ratings  ·  3,567 reviews
1920s India: Perveen Mistry, Bombay's only female lawyer, is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in full purdah when the case takes a turn toward the murderous. The author of the Agatha and Macavity Award–winning Rei Shimura novels brings us an atmospheric new historical mystery with a captivating heroine.

Perveen Mistry, the daughter of
Kindle Edition, 401 pages
Published January 9th 2018 by Soho Crime
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Guys, I think I found it!

I am reading the book right now and could not make peace with the fact that I don't know what a dahitan is, even after spendi…more

Guys, I think I found it!

I am reading the book right now and could not make peace with the fact that I don't know what a dahitan is, even after spending so much of my life loitering around bakeries in Panchgani, Pune and Bombay. A quick google search led me to this question here and I just had to find out what this mysterious sweet thing is that even Parsis don't recognise.

After some major scouring of the internet with various combinations and crossing out stuff that didn't quite fit the description of what one could find at a bakery - I finally landed on this beauty:

I am pretty sure that this is what it is; the recipe matches the description in the book :)

You're welcome ;)

P.S.: I hope I'm right - what do you think?(less)
Springtime7 I would say it is in between, as characters feelings and problems are described in more detail than Christie's.
I would say it is in between, as characters feelings and problems are described in more detail than Christie's.

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Start your review of The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry, #1)
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
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
Christmas 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
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
Jul 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rated 4 Stars: Released 2018 eISBN 978-1-61695-779-7

THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL was a delightful read. It was a wonderful marriage of history and mystery.

The story introduces Perveen Mistry, a solicitor for Mistry Law, in 1921 Bombay, India and interlaces her struggles to be recognized as a lawyer with those she comes into contact and to successfully maneuver her Parsi Muslim customs as a twenty-three-year-old single woman.

It is the very fact that Perveen is female which allows her to act as her
Feb 07, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now I just want to order a ton of Indian food. Not that this is out of the norm for me. I always want a bunch of curries.

Most South Asian books are about Hindus, Muslims, and Sikh, so it was very interesting to learn about the Parsi people. I had no idea Zoroastrianism was the original religion of Iran until the Arabs conquered it.

Am I surprised Orthodox Parsi lock menstruating women up for their entire cycle? No. Am I horrified? Yes.

Polygamy is so curious to me, especially when women aren't rea
A Murder on Malabar Hill is set in 1921, in Bombay and is worth reading just for the author's descriptions of the setting, the food and the customs of the time. The main character, Perveen Mistry, is the daughter of a well off, Parsi family and is determined to become a lawyer like her father. This in a time when women in India have little or no importance in society and certainly do not put themselves forward in such a way.

Events surrounding Perveen's life, including flashbacks to some very unp
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
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
luce (currently recovering from a hiatus)

Cheesy, boring, poorly executed. While there is indeed a murder and the identity behind the culprit is, supposedly, a ‘mystery’, The Widows of Malabar Hill struck me as something in the realms of a third-rate period drama. The first part of the novel introduces us to Perveen Mistry, our protagonist, and works to establish the setting, which is 1920s Bombay. While the author succeeds in depicting the realities of colonialism, of being female in India at this time in history, and in providing her
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
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. ...more
Loved the setting, characters, the mystery and the time period.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
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.
Cathy Cole
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

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
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india_2021

Set in pre-independence era India, Preveen Mistry is the first female lawyer. But she can't go to court to fight for a case as females are denied such privilege. So she works for her father's firm.

Law firm's old client , a Muslim Mill owner dies leaving behind three widows. These widows follow the tradition of "Purdah" that involves the seclusion of women from public observation by means of concealing clothing (including the veil) and by the use of high-walled enclosures, screens, and
Sujata Massey
Mar 14, 2021 is currently reading it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Perveen Mistry is the only woman lawyer practicing in 1921 Bombay. As she works to defend the rights of three widows, she must preserve her family's honor and face hard truths about her own past. "A first rate performance inaugurating a most promising series."--THE WASHINGTON POST. Winner of the Agatha, Macavity, Bruce Alexander Memorial, and Mary Higgins Clark prizes for mystery fiction. A Publishers Weekly Best Mystery/Thriller of 2019 and an Amazon Best Mystery/Thriller of the Year. ...more
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
Judith E
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
Cheryl James
Aug 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My first historical fiction mystery read that features an India author. The book was very entertaining and always engaging. The narrator did an excellent job. The dialect was clear and percise. I am not sure how much of the story is true in the India culture but the story was very interesting. I am looking forward to the next book in this short 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
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
Tamar...playing hooky for a few hours today
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
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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. In June, 2021, THE BOMBAY PRINCE, third book in the series, releases in the US/Canada and Australia/New Zealand; it will be published by Penguin India later the same month.


Other books in the series

Perveen Mistry (4 books)
  • The Satapur Moonstone (Perveen Mistry, #2)
  • The Bombay Prince (Perveen Mistry, #3)
  • The Mistress of Bhatia House (Perveen Mistry, #4)

Articles featuring this book

The historical mystery genre gives readers that magical and page-turning combination of thick historical atmosphere along with the twists and...
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“We worship differently, but we are not so far apart in our hearts,” 4 likes
“She had been meant to die, yet she’d cut her way out of that fate and back to the world she loved.” 4 likes
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