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The Bombay Prince: A Mystery of 1920s India


The Bombay Prince: A Mystery of 1920s India

Sujata Massey effortlessly weaves together history, politics, romance and mystery in her latest novel, the third book to feature Perveen Mistry, the first female lawyer in 1920s Bombay. THE BOMBAY PRINCE sees the entire city tackling a new challenge: the visit of the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII). Every citizen has his or her own opinions on British rule, but when violence breaks out closer to home than expected, Perveen is on the case.

Early in the story, Perveen is consulted by a young woman named Freny Cuttingmaster. A student at a prestigious missionary college, Freny wants to sit out the prince’s official parade but worries that there might be some penalty for doing so. Perveen connects with the troubled teen, so she’s naturally devastated when Freny turns up dead during the royal visit. When further examination reveals that Freny was murdered, she’ll stop at nothing --- and take on every challenge --- to uncover whodunit.

"Massey manages to weave historical elements into a compelling story without info-dumping."

Perveen and her world are brilliantly brought to life by Massey’s prose. Even conflicts in her personal life leave Perveen divided. Where does her duty lie --- with her family or with her heart? But it’s her political and religious dichotomy that is particularly fascinating. As a Parsi like Freny, Perveen provides a unique lens through which to view the political strife erupting in India.

A well-rounded character, Perveen is torn in two by the realities of the time. She opposes British rule but abhors the violence breaking out in Bombay (one harrowing scene near a tailor’s shop will leave readers’ hearts pounding). She was educated in the United Kingdom but is a Parsi woman during a period when Oxford didn’t grant female students degrees and women were not allowed to practice at the highest courts in the land. As Perveen faces white colonialists, sexism and racism, readers will find parallels to the modern world quite readily.

Massey manages to weave historical elements into a compelling story without info-dumping. Readers will want to learn more about India of the 1920s, its burgeoning movement for independence and ethno-religious internal tensions. She also peppers her books with real historical figures --- a minor character, a legal acquaintance of Perveen, is one of the eventual founders of Pakistan --- and true events that compel readers never to put the book down.

Reviewed by Carly Silver on June 26, 2021

The Bombay Prince: A Mystery of 1920s India
by Sujata Massey