A Very Pukka Murder

His Highness the Maharaja Sikander Singh, king of Rajpore, a small kingdom in northern India, is bored. The New Year's festivities put on by the English weren't enough to rouse Sikander, but the news that Major William Russell, in charge of the English forces in Rajpore, was found apparently poisoned on the first morning of 1909, does.

Russell, the English Resident, was a hard man, and the curious Sikander soon discovers that he was not alone in disliking him. Sikander and the Resident's servants felt the lash (sometimes quite literally) of his racism, but even the Resident's fellow Englishmen seem to have many motives to wish him dead. He thwarted ambitions, preyed on defenseless women and angered many important people.

It will take all of Sikander's cunning to solve the crime; his status as Maharaja allows him to go where other Indians are not permitted and to ask the questions that the English are too prim to pose.

Arjun Raj Gaind, an Indian comic book writer, has written a delightfully intriguing mystery as his first novel. A Very Pukka Murder captures the spirit of the British Raj--with its appalling racism and indolence--while still letting the legacy of Sikander's ancestors represent India's glorious past. Sikander knows that his penchant for crime solving isn't pukka (proper), but he can't stop himself, and the reader will cheer his indefatigable inquisitiveness on. Armchair travelers, mystery readers and history lovers are sure to enjoy this interesting twist on life in the British Empire. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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