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The Case of the Missing Servant

(Vish Puri #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  8,141 ratings  ·  1,228 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
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Traffic, yes. Load shedding (ie rolling blackouts) yes. Poverty vs extreme wealth, yes. Older guys trotting around solving murders etc, not so much.

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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  8,141 ratings  ·  1,228 reviews

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Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, crime, india
Fun read!
An Indian murder mystery, taking place in and around Delhi, relaxed and entertaining, just what I needed now.
Meet Vish Puri, India's most private investigator. Portly, persistent and unmistakably Punjabi, including a magnificent waxed moustache, he cuts a determined swathe through modern India's criminal classes......
More to follow. Say 3.8. Enjoyed it!
Brown Girl Reading
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
A more than decent cozy mystery with an Indian detective as the lead. I had encountered Vish Puri, his girth, his lovable wife concerned about his health and his underlings in book No. 3, the Case of the deadly butter chicken, and hence was acquainted with him much before reading this first book of the series, which introduces him and his retinue.
Vish Puri is a 50 something private detective, who earns his bread and butter with matrimony cases, but once in a while is embroiled in a much more
Mar 22, 2011 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 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 tha ...more
Jul 10, 2016 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
Sep 20, 2016 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
Indrani Sen
May 29, 2016 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 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
A nice entertaining story of an indian detective Vish Puri . Will continue reading the series amongst other reads.
Smita Beohar
Jun 26, 2009 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 Man B
Jan 16, 2010 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 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
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
What a fun book to start off 2014! As someone with Indian relatives I could recognize so many details and mannerisms which really made this story particularly enjoyable.
Vish Puri, the esteemed detective, must be one of the most memorable characters I have come across in some time. All of the characters, in fact-especially Mummi-have something quite real about them, though they seem so much like caricatures at the start. The plot, for me, was not even that important, still it was interesting eno
Vishnu Chevli
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listen
A good light hearted detective story that I enjoyed over audible. Good work by narrator.

Deserves 4 out of 5
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this introduction to Delhi Private Investigator Vish Puri. The book is filled with colorful characters and Puri's methods for solving crimes on behalf of his paying clients. He has a good crew of helpers, many with special nicknames.

Library Loan
Susan in NC
Mar 30, 2011 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
Karen (Living Unabridged)
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
A rollicking good read. I'd call him the "Sherlock Holmes of India" but Mr. Puri would be insulted by that comparison. So I'll just say, the setting is well drawn, the dialog is well rendered, and I've already ordered the next book in the series. ...more
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If Kim's Babuji became a private investigator in modern India, he'd sound a lot like this. ...more
Traci Andrighetti
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm officially obsessed with this series! If you want to escape into India, this is your book. ...more
Little slow in places. Overall, an okay 'Sherlock' kind of mystery.

Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
wow!An indian sherlok!
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
First Sentence: Vish Puri, founder and managing director of Most Private Investigators Ltd., sat alone in a room in a guesthouse in Defense Colony, south elhi, devouring a dozen green chili pakoras* from a greasy takeout box.

Private Investigator Vish Puri has his hands full. An honest and respected public litigator has been accused of murdering his maidservant. The police say they have witnesses of him dumping the body. Puri must prove the man’s innocence and find the real killer. A second case
Alyce (At Home With Books)
Jan 14, 2010 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
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
May 31, 2016 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! ...more
Jun 25, 2010 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.

The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall is the first in a detective series featuring Vishi Puri, owner and chief investigator of India's Most Private Investigations. In this first recorded outing (he, like Sherlock Holmes, had many investigations that haven't been told), he has two investigations going at once. In the first, he is looking into the case of the titular missing servant. In the other, he has been asked by one of his national heroes to check out the man's potential son-in-law ...more
Anupama Sarkar
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
The book is much more than a simple murder mystery. It is an amalgam of suspense, drama, exploration of human mind and a perfect paint picture of Punjabi Society of Delhi. In fact, it would be wrong to categorize the book as simply a mystery, though at the surface it appears to be so

Shom Biswas
Dec 25, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: dropped-midway
The tragedy is that I think I have lost this book, in moving from city to city. Will have to buy it again. It was nice while I was reading it - and I would perhaps have read it over the festive times...
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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

Other books in the series

Vish Puri (5 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)
  • The Case of the Reincarnated Client (Vish Puri, #5)

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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
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