Tarquin Hall

Tarquin Hall was at a book signing in late June 2010 at Murder By The Book in Houston.   He has started a series of books that are set in India in and around Delhi. The books are being compared to Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe series (No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency) which takes place in Botswana.

Mr. Hall is British and in the early 1990s he visited India and Pakistan and stayed a month in Bombay.  He fell in love with the country and culture.  He was a journalist in the Afganistan Association Press and ran a Bureau for two years in Delhi.  At about that time a new Prime Minister began to change things for the better in India.

He eventually married an Indian woman who was from and educated in the US.

Mr. Hall got his idea for his books (the first in 2009 was The Case of the Missing Servant) from the fact that many upper class families arrange the marriages of their children.  He noticed that there was advertising in newspapers by “detectives” that would for a fee, investigate the background of prospective husbands and wives.

He said his protagonist Vish Puri reminds him a bit of Sherlock Holmes in London.  Vish, a Punjabi Indian, has a large staff, a driver (Handbrake – most staff people have cute nicknames), two assistant investigators and a technician equipped with microphones and cameras.  Vish does matrimonial cases but also takes on other more difficult cases such as the apparent murder of  a woman servant at a friends house.

Reading the book you get a look at life in modern India.  Mr. Hall writes that narrative the way the people actually speak English which takes a little getting used to.  And uses many Indian words which are defined in the back of the book.

Mr. Hall told us that he writes these books for Western audiences but that Indian newspapers give him good reviews.

I like the first book (I’m about 2/3 through it).  The second is The Case of The Man Who Died Laughing.  He got the idea for it from a Laughing Club he came across in India.

The third book will be out next year and is The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken and will involve the game cricket.  Everyone like the name and idea for this one.  I plan to read it.

As far as collecting is concerned the first and second books have relatively high ratings in my system.   I didn’t buy the first last year though.  It is currently being remaindered though the copies I’ve come across have had remaindered marks on the bottom of the text.  This means the book can only be properly listed as very good.  I avoid them as do many collectors.  I’ll keep looking.

Mr. Hall did not give me number of the first printing.  I’m not sure he understood what I was asking.  I’d estimate maybe 25,000.  The second book has a first printing of 75,ooo and so will not be especially pricey unless it gets a nomination next year.

The book is by definition a “cozy” at least what I’ve read so far but best for older teenagers and adults.

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