Tarquin Hall: Vish Puri Mystery Series

I just added a new (to me) author on the Cozy Mystery site. I was in a hurry to add him, since I will be recommending him as my July 2012 Cozy Mystery Books Recommendation in just a few minutes.

Tarquin Hall writes the Vish Puri Mystery Series, which is an absolute delight to read. It is set in Delhi, India – not your typical mystery series setting. (Last month, it was recommended as one of June 2012 Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations, so this series will be making the list two months in a row.)

Tarquin Hall, a journalist, has begun a mystery series that I will liken to three of my favorite mystery series. I can definitely see some Hercule Poirot in Vish Puri, as well as some Sherlock Holmes, mixed in with a little No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series. (Yes, I am aware that Vish would not like me to say he is anything like Sherlock Holmes!)

Vish reminds me a lot of Poirot because of his inflated (but accurate!) view of his own abilities, especially vis-à-vis the police. Vish (or “Chubby” – as his close friends and family call him) is the founder of the Most Private Investigators agency, and seems genuinely preoccupied with righting wrongs. Vish  is able to overlook a lot of society’s prejudices, and seems comfortable relating to both rich and poor. Vish, like Poirot, seems to have a canny ability to size up people.

Vish reminds me of Sherlock Holmes because of his inflated (but accurate!) view of his own abilities, especially vis-à-vis the police. (Hmmm, haven’t I said this very same thing before?) Vish enjoys amazing people with his powers of deductions, almost to the point of playing parlor tricks. Vish uses all sorts of disguises for himself, as well as his staff. He involves himself in the actual story, putting himself right into the action, rather than simply observing all of the facts.

Enter, the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. As I have said many times, I am a huge fan of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. Hall manages to do for India, what McCall Smith does for Botswana. Hall is able to fill all of our senses with India. He acquaints us with the sounds, smells, bright colors, and human conditions of Delhi. Tarquin Hall is a wonderful storyteller. As in McCall Smith’s series, we are able to see Vish in both his professional capacity, as well as his home life. (I hope to see a lot more of his interfering Mummy-ji in the following mystery books!) All of the characters are three dimensional, and have back stories.

If you are looking for a new a mystery series to follow that is humorous, smart, entertaining, different, and downright fun, I recommend you take a look at Tarquin Hall’s Vish Puri Mystery Series. I’m glad I did!


  1. marja says

    Thanks for the recommendation! I love mysteries that take me far afield to countries I may never visit, but give me a sense of the peoples and cultures elsewhere.

    I, too, adore McCall Smith’s “Ladie’s No. 1 Detective Agency” series. That is probably the first time a “best seller” has pleased me as much as it does the general public.

    There’s a wonderful new series by a female author whose name I can’t recall. Her main character, Detective Singh, is a Sikh from [I think] Singapore, and because he can’t get along with his incompetent superiors, he is sent to other countries to conduct investigations. He is plump, has a nagging wife, and is a bit of a pill, but one can identify with him in many ways too. There are only two books so far, but they’re written with lots of character background, so that the mystery really grabs you because of its impact on the characters.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Marja, I just looked up your author. Your description makes her sound like someone I would enjoy reading. She is Shamini Flint, and her website says she used to be a lawyer, but gave it up to become a stay-at-home mom who writes books – both for children and adults. Her Inspector Singh Mystery Series looks like fun. Thanks for telling us about Flint.

      (I agree with you about liking McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I thought for sure, as it was a best seller when I started reading it, that I was not going to enjoy it as much as I did, but I loved it. >>> I’ve had too many disappointments with the “Emperor’s New Clothes” syndrome…)

  2. says

    I didn’t like the Number one Detective Agency books. Too slow for me.

    This month I read an oldie–it’s now out on Kindle for about 3.50 or so: Geraldine Evans “Dead Before Morning.” I reviewed it at the blog and basically it’s your British Mystery. Not quite cozy, but a good procedural with two coppers and some other nice characters.

    I also read Calamity Jayne (or was that last month?) Hmm. At any rate this falls into the Zany, zany cozy bucket. I enjoyed it, but the zaniness is pretty over-the-top in this one so if you’re borderline, this might be a bit much. Still, it was a fun read for me. It’s by Kathleen Bacus.

    If you like cozy fantasy, I can HEARTILY recommend Frank Tuttle’s Saving the Sammi. Just adorable and fun–the main is a “mage” although she relies more on science realism than strict magic most of the time and her familiar is a plant with 29 eyes and a wise-cracking wit. It’s a long novella; very cute and I enjoyed the chance to visit with Meralda and Mug (Mug is the plant.)

  3. sandy g says

    I’m definitely a fan of Vish Puri. Read the first book and the second and third are on my list. You’re so right about the sights, sounds and smells of New Delhi — and the funny characters — his detectives and of course, Mummy-ji.
    I’m also a fan of the Peculiar Crimes Unit mysteries (Chrisopher Fowler)– great, quirky characters and again, the sights and sounds of London. Just picked up “Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach,” Colin Cotterill. (How could I resist a mystery with a name like that?) It’s set in Thailand. (He has another series set in Laos.) I’ve also read a couple of the Thursday Next series (Fforde) and really like those again, because of the characters — and the author’s whimsical take on myth, folklore, fairytales, and most of all, language.

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Sandy, I am going to have to take a look at Christopher Fowler‘s Peculiar Crimes Unit as well as Colin Cotterill‘s Dr. Siri Paiboun series and Jasper Fforde‘s Thursday Next series. (I’m also going to have to ask my son if he reads Fforde’s work.) If they are anything like Tarquin Hall’s Vish Puri series, I’m sure I would like them.

  4. sandy g says

    ps thanks for telling about the Singapore series , Detective Singh– by Shamini Flint. I’ll put that on my list.

  5. Carol says

    I just discovered your site today – Last February I read Tarquin Hall’s “The case of the man who died laughing” and “The case of the missing servant”. I loved them both and wished he had written more! Today from your list I discovered “The case of the deadly butter chicken” and I have put myself on its wait list at my local library. I agree with everything you said about the series. Thanks!

    • Danna - cozy mystery list says

      Carol, my husband and I are going to be driving to Colorado in the near future. I have gotten both The Case of the many Who Died Laughing and The Case of the Missing Servant from audible. I can’t wait to hear them!

  6. marion says

    So many great books. Although I have read mysteries periodically in the past, I have only recently begun reading them with any regularity. I am amazed at how many and in what variety you ladies and gentlemen have read. There must be an incredible market for these books. I get to feeling overwelmed, knowing that I’ll never catch up but I try to tell myself, “Now, Marion. One book at a time. At the Pearly Gates, the Lord will not let you pass based on how many mysteries you’ve read.” Ect, ect.” Lol. One reason I have not read many is that my library has a huge selection and I have been intimidated by having no idea what I wanted. Now I can go in backed up by loads of recommendations and reviews with lots of categories and best of all, people to “talk” to about what I have read. Thank you so much.

    • linda c says

      Marion, That is the only ” problem” that I have found with this wonderful blog of Danna’s. So many people recommend so many books that even though I am retired I still cannot find the time to read a lot of those recommendations. I am doing my darnest to try though!!!

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