Sujata Massey followed her Edgar Award finalist book, The Widows of Malabar Hill (2018), with another captivating mystery featuring the female Bombay lawyer, Perveen Mistry.
Set in 1922, in a remote state of Satapur, a tragedy has befallen the royal family when the maharaja suddenly dies. Jiva Rao, the maharaja’s ten-year old son, finds himself the new maharaja. This presents a problem though since he will not be able to rule the princely state of Satapur until he reaches the age of eighteen. The widowed maharani Mirabai and the dowager maharani Putlabai disagree about the young maharaja’s education. Mirabai wants his son to go to England, while Putlabai insists that her grandson remain in the royal palace. Perveen soon finds herself involved and quickly discovers that there’s more to the situation than a simple family dispute.
The Satapur Moonstone delves into the cultural, political, and social dynamics of 1920s India. Massey’s novel is filled with descriptions of the breathtaking Indian countryside, scrumptious food, and fashion of the era. The characters are well-drawn. Readers will root for Perveen Mistry as she breaks boundaries and proves that women are capable of greatness. What is most fascinating is how Massey explores the social divisions found in India’s caste system. Altogether, Massey’s The Satapur Moonstone gives us a fascinating glimpse into both the Parsi and Hindu culture as well as the history of India under British rule. The Satapur Moonstone makes for a very engaging historical mystery and comes highly recommended.