Perveen Mistry is the only female lawyer in Bombay in the year 1921. She spends most of her time in her father's law office, doing research for the various clients that come their way. She's not necessarily reluctant to take the stand herself; it's more her father is reluctant that she do so. Despite this, and perhaps because of her tragic past, she is moved to quietly support women's rights and education, against the wishes of both her family and her community.
When a wealthy Muslim mill owner dies, Mistry Law takes the case. Though the transfer of wealth to the mill owner's three widows should be straightforward, things become complicated when the widows' solicitor claims all three women want to give their inheritance to charity instead of keeping it to support themselves and their children. Perveen's suspicions are confirmed when a murder occurs, and she must find a way to protect the widows from those who would take advantage.
I've been complaining for several years now that we don't have enough competent female leads in mystery series (there are a few, but they are woefully outnumbered by their male counterparts), and Sujata Massey has delivered with "The Widows of Malabar Hill." I was taken in by this Law-and-Order-esque tale set in lush, swing-era Bombay, and I loved seeing Perveen proceed with a cool head and a fiery heart. Readers looking for a strong female heroine, a vivid setting and a strange mystery will find it here.
Megan Mehmert is the teen programming associate at Missouri River Regional Library.