Murder in Old Bombay

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By Nev March

It’s February 1892. Capt. James Agnihotri is turning 30 in a carbolic-scented hospital ward in Poona, India.

He’s had a long convalescence from battle injuries he doesn’t want to think about.

To relieve the boredom, he has picked up a Sherlock Holmes book. Meanwhile, a tragic story unfolding in the newspaper about a woman and her sister-in-law who fell to their deaths from the University Clock Tower catches his eye.

When a trial ends without a conviction, a local newspaper speculates it was a double suicide. But Adi Framji, the husband of Basha Framji and cousin of Pilloo, writes the editors that was impossible. Basha, he said, was a woman full of joy and kindness who had every reason to live.

Jim becomes convinced that by applying Sherlock Holmes’ style observation and deductive reasoning to this case, it can be solved. The Framji family hires him to investigate.

This is a murder — and a romance — set in India of British Raj and the adjoining princely states. Jim is the illegitimate son of a British man and an Indian woman. He was raised in a Catholic orphanage and then became a soldier. His mixed-race status puts him between two worlds.

As any good detective does, Jim begins tracking down witnesses. His travels across India lead to further adventures. There’s a strong rapport and respect between Jim and the Framji family. It’s not surprising that an attraction grows between Jim and Adi’s sister, Diana.

But it is an impossible relationship. The Framjis are Sikhs and don’t marry outside of their community. Diana has spent time in England and is a thoroughly modern woman who chafes at the restrictions of a woman’s life in India. She’s bright, perceptive and helpful with Jim’s investigation.

The mystery to be solved in this book is unusual and challenging. Author Nev March’s characters are strong and likeable. The background of Victorian India is fascinating. March has struck the perfect balance between characters, crime and setting.

If you enjoy mysteries like Abir Mukherjee’s A RISING MAN, you’ll enjoy this one. Or check out A WILL TO KILL by R. V. Raman.

The Author: Nev March

After 20 years as a business analyst and with the encouragement of her husband, Nev left the corporate world in 2015 to write her first novel, MURDER IN OLD BOMBAY. The novel won the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award in 2019.

She grew up in Bombay, where her mother read Nev and her siblings Arthur Conan Doyle stories. As a child, she loved Rudyard Kipling’s KIM.

MURDER IN OLD BOMBAY is based on real events she heard about as a child with entrepreneur and inventor Ardeshir Godrej as the young husband

She teaches creative writing at Rutgers-Osher Institute. A Parsee Zoroastrian herself, Nev lives with her husband and two sons in New Jersey.


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