My rating for this is probably a 3 for the first 1/2 and a 4 for the second.
I picked out Tarquin Hall’s The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken: A Vish Puri Mystery almost a year ago when I was visiting Macalaster College with my niece. I hadn’t read any of the other books in the series, but thought it looked amusing and I love books that really place you in a location. It wasn’t necessary for me to read previous entries to understand who the main characters were or what they were hoping to accomplish. For the first 1/2 of the book, the only thing that really kept me going was the description of food – if you like food, this book will keep you hungry! I wasn’t so charmed by Vish Puri or the mustache mystery. However, there are a number of wonderful secondary characters, including Chanel No. 5, who attempts to get key information from a cricket player, and long-suffering personal driver Handbrake.
I set it aside many times, but finally made it to Puri’s trip to Pakistan and I was engrossed. Tonally, the book changes. Partition, atrocities on both sides of the border, and the long-term effects of this chaotic, traumatic historic period were all described extremely well and quite emotionally. Detective Puri had long vowed never to visit the land where some of his family had been massacred, and yet found commonality with people and food, and ultimately, the trip led him to the final piece of the puzzle.
I recommend this book to people who like to travel through reading, people who like to eat, and people who like Hercule Poirot- or Precious Ramotswe-esque detectives.