Shamini Flint is back with her Inspector Singh Investigates series and this time the potbellied, bumbling Singapore-based cop finds his latest mission in aamchi Mumbai. Forced to go on a sick leave by his superior, Singh is rather bored, which is why he lets his wife cart him along to India for her niece’s wedding. Expectedly, he doesn’t really look forward to his visit to India, the dirty country where touts abound looking to fleece ‘phoreners.’ As the Singhs arrive at the shaadi ka ghar they are met with the distressing news that the beautiful bride-to-be Ashu Kaur is missing. Just as Tara Singh, a noted businessman and Ashu’s grandfather entrusts Singh the responsibility of locating Ashu (they don’t want to involve the local police as word will get out and create a scandal), a corpse is found. Confirming everyone’s worst fears, Tanvir, Ashu’s brother an attractive but hot-headed young man, identifies the body as his sister’s, casting a pall of gloom over what was to be a happy affair.
As Singh continues to dig into scrumptious food and myriad clues, he finds that this is not the simple case that it seems to be. With its predictable twists, the plot is a typical Bollywood potboiler. But to give the author credit, the plot does widen and connect to the social and political world that makes up the patchwork that is India. So as you go along you will get a glimpse of events like Indira Gandhi’s assassination, the Mumbai terror attacks and other communally volatile situations that have rocked our world from time to time.
Shamini’s style of writing is clutter free and makes for an easy read. But what I found irksome throughout was the fact that while Singh and his wife seem to speak impeccable English, the Indian characters, be it a cabbie or a top cop, invariably lapse into broken English — a trait that one seldom finds these days. It only goes to show that no matter how many Indians continue to take over the corporate world or the tremendous progress our country makes, we will still be perceived as a bunch of people who struggle to strike a conversation in broken English and fleece foreigners (this I suppose happens in every nation).
However, despite my rants about her showing Indians in poor light, the book makes for a light read if you enjoy thrillers and Bollywood style masala.
Name: Inspector Singh investigates: A Curious Indian cadaver
Author: Shamini Flint
Publisher: Hachette India