Barnabas, Bombay’s First Private Detective is cleverly written detective fiction by Sangeeta Nambiar. Being a lover of history, one of my major draws to this book was the fact that it was set in colonial Indian, when Gandhi’s Nationalist movement against the British was at its peak and when Mumbai was still Bombay; a setting that serves more than just a backdrop and lends the story a lot of character.
The book is the story of Barnabas Mehta, the son of a cook who has been raised under the guardianship of his father’s employer, Francis Curtis a British man. The story leads us to Wodehouse Road, where a British woman, Rose Stanton has gone missing and whose husband, not wanting to get the police involved hires Barnabas to solve the case. The book goes on to reveal the fact that Rose has been brutally murdered and Barnabas finds himself in the middle of a challenging mystery. The rest of the book introduces the reader to many interesting and well defined characters and has clues strewn across, waiting to be picked up and deciphered.
The way Barnabas handles the case with his wit and intellect is refreshing and it’s wonderful to come across a crime thriller where the author lets you think for yourself, instead of spoon feeding you. The plot moves on effortlessly and this is a book you can’t put down once you’re in the thick of the action, taking many deft twists and turns to come to an intelligent ending.
I love how skillfully Nambiar has fleshed out the character of Barnabas and I hope she decides to follow up this book with more of Barnabas’s adventures. Recommended!