by Kathleen Costa
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
It’s 1921, Bangalore, India, and nineteen-year-old Kaveri Murthy has become known locally as a detective after she successfully uncovered the killer of a disreputable man who preyed on vulnerable women; a scar on her neck is an unfortunate souvenir. Her doctor husband, Ramu, is supportive of her various pursuits, efforts to expand her education, and even getting a driver’s license. In contrast, her mother-in-law, Bhargavi, disagrees with her many avenues of interest and is not shy telling her; she sees her role only within the confines of being a wife, a mother, hopefully soon, and taking care of her as culture dictates. However, because of Kaveri’s skill, she is approached by many locals who ask for help, but finding lost livestock doesn’t compare to finding a killer.
Murder Under a Red Moon Earns 5/5 Peacocks … “Couldn’t Put Down” Exciting!
Kaveri is suspicious of her mother-in-law’s motives accompanying her to the local animal show, but it soon becomes clear when she finds herself steered toward a shade tree, where, not by accident, she meets, Shanthi Sharma, cousin to her mother-in-law. The woman has a sensitive matter to discuss away from prying eyes. Her husband owns Sampangi Mills, and despite their success, money is missing and they suspect embezzlement. Kaveri worries a matter this grand is too great a challenge and suggests she contact the police, but Shanthi declines reiterating the delicate nature of the matter. She believes her step-daughter’s fiancé may somehow be involved. Surprising to Kaveri is the positive way her mother-in-law describes her abilities when pleading for her “daughter” to reconsider. She’s never before been referred as her daughter, so Kaveri acquiesces, but resists meeting during the lunar eclipse, aka night of the blood moon. But, as Shanthi points out, it is the perfect time; the factory will be all but vacant of prying eyes, and there she can meet with her husband and review the situation.
Tempting superstitions can be problematic, but Kaveri doesn’t entertain such concerns and prepares for her meeting, but then, she receives a strange note changing the meeting time. She is suspicious it is not from Shanthi. Kaveri decides to ask her friend Inspector Ismail to accompany her, which comes in handy when at the factory there is a loud gunshot, sounds of someone running away, and Mr. Sharma dead in his office. The one shocking detail about the crime scene is the victim has in his grasp Kaveri’s missing necklace. Things just got complicated for the budding detective.
Top Experience! Harini Nagendra has again penned an exciting and complex story for her second book in The Bangalore Detectives Club series rich with 1920s’ flair, Indian culture and religion, the role of women in society, and the historical conflict with the British. The crime occurred early in the book, my preference, and started out as a traditional murder mystery with family of the victim at the top of the suspect list due to an embezzlement claim and a lucrative inheritance, but it’s made intense by the evidence and other incidents suggesting Kaveri may be a target. This doesn’t deter our young detective as she scrutinizes the victim, his business, and the family or as she goes about her investigation and day-to-day responsibilities. The story also takes on more complex themes: domestic abuse, the drug trade, religious frauds, and disparity between the haves and have nots. Kaveri’s connection with law enforcement is friendly and collaborative, but there are social dictates and a British hierarchy she needs to navigate carefully.
Nagendra’s writing style is one I enjoy with entertaining details on culture and societal norms, a strong female lead with a healthy marriage, diverse multi-generational personalities, and an authentic interpretation of colonial India. She provided interesting insights into Kaveri’s detecting methods with note-taking and inner thoughts along with involving her group of woman and some local urchins who come from various areas of society for spying or undercover schemes. Kaveri’s everyday life also includes interesting mentions of the coffee industry, the suffragette movement, a magazine for Indian women, and other female entrepreneurs who were often inspired by Harini’s own family, experiences, and historical figures and events. I am a big fan of chapter titles, the inclusion of native language, and references to food, fashion, and entertainment. All around this is a favorite series, I recommend mystery fans not miss!
Bonuses Not to Miss!
Kaveri’s Dictionary provides definitions or translations for words used in the native language. Be prepared with Recipes for a Mid-afternoon Meeting of the Bangalore Detective Club: South Indian filter coffee, Musk melon rasayana, Maddur vada, Uppittu, and Coconut barfi. The Historical Note provides an extra glimpse into the coffee industry, inspiring women, the cocaine trade, Lord Garuda, silversmiths, and a martial art form mentioned in the story offering some fascinating clarity. Don’t miss the Acknowledgments that give credit to the various family, friends, and experts who contributed to this exciting book.
Check it out! Harini Nagendra popped up as a guest in Kings River Life 8/17/22 issue with a fascinating take on South Indian Filter Coffee Meets a Double-Shot Espresso.
Be a Big Fan of Harini Nagendra!
Harini Nagendra is “a professor of ecology at Azim Premji University, and a well-known public speaker and writer on issues of nature and sustainability,” which is a fascinating set of tools for a mystery writer. But, oh, how it works! “The Bangalore Detectives Club is her first crime fiction novel. “Harini lives in Bangalore with her family, in a home filled with maps. She loves trees, mysteries, and traditional recipes.”
Website: Harini Nagendra
Facebook: Harini Nagendra
Enter to win a copy of Murder Under a Red Moon by Harini Nagendra by making a comment below about exotic India: (1) a favorite book or movie set in India, (2) a favorite curry recipe or Indian restaurant, or (3) is India a bucket list destination?, or simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “red moon” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 20, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please be sure to include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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My favorite movie set in India is probably 1938’s Gunga Din with Cary Grant. Nowadays it would probably “trigger” somebody.
I don’t know much about India, but I would really enjoy reading about it. Sounds like an interesting book.
There are few Indian restaurants in our
area. I’ve watched cooking shows and
the food sounds interesting. Need to
go across the river to St. Louis and
visit an Indian restaurant over there.
the book should be a good read.
Your review has piqued my interest. Thank you for the opportunity to win Murder Under The Red Sky. I enjoy Indian food- curry makes everything tasty.
New author for me, sounds good! tWarner419@aol.com
I think this is a very interesting setting for a mystery. I’d love to read it!
This is a new to me author. Thanks for the post Kathleen! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com
I loved her first book, can’t wait to read this! One of my all time favourite book, set in India is Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things – beautifull set in the backwaters of Kerala and tackles the important layers of Indian society. My favourite curry recipe is Chettinad Chicken, either my own recipe or from Bawarchi’s Restaurant in Atlanta. And, yes, India will always be my bucket list destination!
We have a winner!