A Murder on Malabar Hill is a thrilling story. It is a prolific journey of the first female lawyer in Bombay. One can study the text from different angles as it deals with various themes.
Set in pre-independence period, this tale pictures a very different India. While the world practised patriarchy, the protagonist embarks her position as a strong woman. Churning through injustice, Perveen Mistry appears as a remarkable character.
Inspired by Cornelia Sorabji of Poona, the protagonist takes her shape. She was the first woman to study law at Oxford and admitted to Bombay Bar in 1923.
Sujata Massey paints the character quite picturesque. With success, the author draws the parallel between two distinct periods.
The reader comes across the sophisticated life of high-class people. We get to know about the dark side of the world as well. As the story takes a shift, we learn so much about the minority communities surviving in India.
The Murder on Malabar Hill is Filled with twists and turns, the plot keeps you on your toes. At times, we may question the parallel text. As one reaches the climax, all the chords begin to connect.
The murder, the killer, the cause of killing lay naked in front of the reader. But, it takes a lot of time to expect the truth. We keep on suspecting who could be the killer.
Love, mystery, romance, thrill, murder; the text has something for everyone. It is an intriguing text which keeps a reader engaged throughout.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Author: Sujata Massey
Sujata Massey is an award-winning and highly-acclaimed mystery writer. She was born in England in 1964. Her parents belonged to India and Germany.
Most of her bringing up took place in St. Paul Minnesota. She holds a BA degree in writing seminars from John Hopkins University. She started working as a features reporter for “Baltimore Evening Sun”.
Further, she shifted to Japan leaving the newspaper. There she studied Japanese and taught English. She wrote her first novel, “The Salary man’s Wife” when she were in Japan.
The novel became the first of many in the “Rei Shimura Mystery Series”. It earned her the Agatha Award for the Best First Novel in 1997.
In 2000 her novel, “The Flower Master” won the Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel. Addition to this, it also helped the author to gain nominations for the Edgar, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark Awards.
Sujata wrote acclaimed historical novels like “The City Of Palaces”. Massey is best known for her series featuring Rei Shimura, a Californian born to a Japanese father and an American mother.
In 2013, Sujata debuted a new historical suspense series called “The Daughters Of Benga”l. Many of her novels are set in Japan and Washington DC.
With “The Perveen Mistry Investigations Series”, author continues to explore the early 20th Century India . In 2019, “The Widows of Malabar Hills” made her receive The Mary Higgins Clark Award.
She is globally renowned in more than eighteen countries for her notable works. At present, she puts up near Washington DC.
The Murder on Malabar Hill Book Review
Marriage – Reality or Illusion
The Murder on Malabar Hill deals with a significant aspect of life, i.e. marriage. Marriage is a sacred thread, which binds two people into a pious relationship.
How can such a holy thing be trickery? Life in twentieth-century makes everything possible. The reader encounters various distinctions in life before and after marriage.
The things before marriage seem lovey-dovey and happy. As soon as one gets married, the things change forever. It is not the same for everyone but it is the truth for many of them.
The central character in the novel suffers a disgraceful life post marriage. The Malabar Hill widows too face many ups and downs as Omar Farid weds new women.
Marriage needs care and compassion. While we come across the instances of pitiable marriages, we also find examples of a happy marriage. Mr and Mrs Mistry share a compassionate married relationship.
They value each other’s opinions. Consulting and considering the spouse’s thought strengthens the relationship.
Sir and Lady Hobson Jones also appear as a closed knit couple. The sense of mutual respect and affection flows through them. The text studies various angles of marriage and divorce.
It is easy to marry someone but to take divorce is thousand times difficult. There are a different set of laws which one has to abide by. We further feel that our constitution needs a revision.
The very laws that motives to protect the victim can also act against him/her. The filth of the family court is disgusting. Sujata Massey leaves the theme bare to take as one likes.
Feminism acts as the most important theme in the novel. We all have our definitions of feminism and patriarchy. The Murder on Malabar Hill teaches it’s readers the true meaning of equality and freedom for women.
The plot is set in Bombay, 1921. This era pre-independence has a different picture of the world than what we know. Trials and tribulations for females are not the same as compared to today.
To make oneself, a woman has to strive a lot. Education was not something allowed to women in the times before. The survive of a woman as a professional in a world where male rules is a hard nut to crack.
Misogyny and sexism are other tools which act against the woman, who aspires to grow. From minimal permission to take admission in the college to ragging, a woman undergoes many tortures.
An unhappy marriage is another blot on a woman. Males have the authority to objectify their wives. They are also allowed to seek pleasure out of their wedlock.
If a male consummates with a concubine, it is not considered as a sin. Through and through women are being accused and beaten up by the norms of the society.
At every point of life, a female gets guided to act in a certain manner. Preveen Jamshedji Mistry makes a powerful debut in the Murder on Malabar Hill.
Battling against every hurdle, she makes her way to the first woman lawyer in Bombay. Her vigour to achieve is impeccable. She proves that one can achieve anything with determination.
Truth May Prevail
“Good wins over evil” is a popular phrase, which Massey adopts for setting the plot. Since the text is a mystery fable, there exist many twisted truths.
‘Satyameva Jayate’ is a powerful preaching for every individual. It is a social crime novel which takes you through each road of law and order.
To dig into the filthy slime and taking out the beautiful truth is the job of a lawyer. Dirk Gently says ,’to solve a crime, one must investigate the society in which it takes place.’ Between those high walls of Malabar Hills apartment prevail many hidden secrets.
Perveen takes the advantage of her gender and search out the dark killer. Seeking the truth is not a piece of cake. The mystery would remain unsolved without Perveen’s majestic mind.
In her married life at Sodawalla’s place, she figures out the hidden truth of Azara. A traumatized daughter of Sodawallas succumbs to death because she is not taken care.
She confines in a dingy cell during the menstrual period. The time goes as a rotten tenure. The house of her in-laws holds many hideous realities to unveil.
Mistry Law is the legal authority handling the case of Farid Fabrics. Advocate Jamshedji Mistry with his prowess, helps his daughter unravel the mystery.
He also protects his daughter from a rueful marriage. Valour runs in the bloodline of the Mistrys which enables the truth to lay exposed.
The conclusion of the story is satisfactory as it represents the power of the truth.
What I Like the Most in A Murder on Malabar Hills?
The novel is an empowering arena for every female out there. It is exhilarating to read such a wonderful text. This murder mystery digs out the spy in you.
Sujata Massey carves the plot in a effortless way. A Murder on Malabar Hill is a thrilling story. Massey voices out the plight of women every now and then.
It involves the concepts like domestic violence, sexism, misogyny and feminism. These notions are gripping our roots since time immemorial.
I like the way Perveen Mistery appears on the screen. She is a fearless, intrepid, and intelligent solicitor joining the family business. Her zeal is noteworthy. To have a father like Jamshedji Mistry is no less than a blessing.
The father-daughter relationship is also portrayed in a way that presents as an example. We need families like Mistery especially in the world we live in.
Sheltering an abandoned daughter who left her in-laws for the injustice is not acceptable by many. Perveen Mistry learns from her broken marriage and helps in solving the case.
Faith is another important reason why Perveen tackles everything right. The people around her show in her the devotion. She leaves everyone dumb-founded when she solves the case.
The depiction of women empowerment excites me the most. A woman like Perveen Mistry is ideal for womanhood. She provides strength to Farid widows as well who learn and exercise their rights.
She rises by lifting others. This quality of hers is admirable. A strong woman is the need of an hour.
What I Didn’t Like?
A text which shapes the ideal for the society is hard to have any loopholes. A social crime novel that puts forth a dogma cannot lag behind. Sujata Massey represents the modern woman. In her effort to do so, she talks about almost every hindrance that a woman faces.
It is shameful to read how women never acknowledged for their works. The tale outrages me when I read about malpractices attached to menstruation.
An orthodox legacy is not necessary to follow. Massey describes the plight of a woman to take up a course that is male oriented.
The mistreatment of a girl in a room full of boys does not depict good conduct. Sujata confirms through her novel that why women should speak up.
We rely on our constitution to save us in times of misery. Through the case of Perveen’s divorce, we learn that there is a need for revision in our laws.
By and by, Sujata Massey jeopardises the dangers associated with single women. At the same time, she tells the measures to protect one-self.
The ideas accompanied with the so-called high-class society get shunned. One takes time to reframe his knowledge of society.
There are incidences which may get you furious. One cannot detest a story like this. A reader is going to admire “A Murder on Malabar Hill” for its beauty.
It outshines a fine reflection of the Utopian society. Massey writes in a way that can bring revolution, and we will help her.
A Murder on Malabar Hill Quotes
“A dying man clutches at sea foam”.
“True romantic love must be an overpowering desire to meld two essences into one”.
“Being the first family in the place means no breadcrumbs in the drawers or stains in the bath”.
“Jealousy and resentment were the running themes in this household of women”.
“Whether in cinema or real life, we ladies have a long road ahead”.
Ratings: A Murder on Malabar Hill
The book is a 4 on the scale of 1-5. It is difficult for one to unlove the text. A picturesque representation outlining a new world is praise-worthy.
The novel keeps the reader engrossed throughout. It is not for once that you lose interest. An appalling story of a female lawyer who rises to beat the patriarchy is much needed today.
The myths adjoined with marriage and divorce is very well presented. Sujata Massey pens down the text with a lucid vocabulary. It is a comprehensive story which is easy to read for everyone.
Filled with twists and turns, the story keeps the reader on his toes. There is a back and forth movement in plot as we experience the flashback.
It is a grappling fable which requires a room in every reader’s shelf. If you are seeking a modern day revolutionary text, it is the one for you.
Are you still thinking? Then don’t give it a thought and buy it. Happy reading!
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