Bombay’s only female solicitor, Perveen Mistry, grapples with class divisions, sexism, and complex family dynamics as she seeks justice for a mistreated young woman in this thrilling fourth installment in Sujata Massey’s award-winning series.
India, 1922: Perveen Mistry is the only female lawyer in Bombay, a city where child mortality is high, birth control is unavailable and very few women have ever seen a doctor.
Perveen is attending a lavish fundraiser for a new women’s hospital specializing in maternal health issues when she witnesses an accident. The grandson of an influential Gujarati businessman catches fire—but a servant, his young ayah, Sunanda, rushes to save him, selflessly putting herself in harm’s way. Later, Perveen learns that Sunanda, who’s still ailing from her burns, has been arrested on trumped-up charges made by a man who doesn’t seem to exist.
Perveen cannot stand by while Sunanda languishes in jail with no hope of justice. She takes Sunanda as a client, even inviting her to live at the Mistry home in Bombay’s Dadar Parsi colony. But the joint family household is already full of tension. Perveen’s father worries about their law firm taking so much personal responsibility for a client, and her brother and sister-in-law are struggling to cope with their new baby. Perveen herself is going through personal turmoil as she navigates a taboo relationship with a handsome former civil service officer.
When the hospital’s chief donor dies suddenly, Miriam Penkar, a Jewish-Indian obstetrician, and Sunanda become suspects. Perveen’s original case spirals into a complex investigation taking her into the Gujarati strongholds of Kalbadevi and Ghatkopar, and up the coast to Juhu Beach, where a decadent nawab lives with his Australian trophy wife. Then a second fire erupts, and Perveen realizes how much is at stake. Has someone powerful framed Sunanda to cover up another crime? Will Perveen be able to prove Sunanda’s innocence without endangering her own family?
About the Author
Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She was a features reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun before becoming a full-time novelist. The first Perveen Mistry novel, The Widows of Malabar Hill, was an international bestseller and won the Agatha, Macavity, and Mary Higgins Clark Awards. Visit her website at sujatamassey.com.
Praise for The Mistress of Bhatia House
A Best Summer Reading Selection from the Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Baltimore Sun
“Brilliantly pictured 1922 India.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Massey's evocative mysteries featuring Mistry have always woven political, cultural and critical social issues into a compelling historical mystery. This one's threads could be worn today.” —Carole E. Barrowman, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“[Massey] grapples with class divisions and sexism as Mistry, the city’s only female solicitor, seeks justice for a mistreated young nursemaid.” —Baltimore Sun
“[A] compelling installment in this excellent series.” —Boston Globe
“[The] series keeps getting stronger with each book... While the book is rich in historical detail, it also has immense resonance in a post-Dobbs United States.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Massey fills these novels with exquisite details, including food and clothes. More than once I’ve gone searching the internet for a recipe or off to Devon Avenue for ingredients to create a tea she describes. She goes into great detail in fashion—whether it be silk saris or a Schiaparelli gown, and accessories, from Perveen’s leather briefcase by Swaine Adeney Brigg or the local heiress’ Vionnet handbag. The description of Perveen’s bedroom alone is divine, not to mention the adjacent garden-view veranda complete with a pet parrot that swoops in for fruit snacks, or her black-and-white tiled en suite bathroom. I can’t be the only one yearning for PBS to create an adaptation!” —Newcity Lit
“Massey plays her own self-imposed game of multidimensional chess, not only hybridizing mystery and historical fiction, but also balancing the need to plot individual novels alongside the progress of the entire series... Many of the developments in The Mistress of Bhatia House feel very close and all too timely. With each of her books, Massey orients the action around a theme or issue, and this one focuses on health care freedom and access.” —Washington City Paper
”A must read.” —The News-Review
“For my money, Sujata Massey's Perveen Mistry historical series is one of the best ones out there. This talented writer never fails to take me deep into 1920s Bombay, India, and keep me there throughout her story. The Mistress of Bhatia House is no exception.” —Kittling Books
“A complex whodunit that also provides a fascinating immersion in a bygone era.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Provocative... Through Perveen, readers see an Oxford-educated lawyer from a privileged family plausibly contend with the sexism and racism of her time and place—and when Massey returns to the plot’s core mystery, she manages some nifty surprises. This is a transporting mystery.” —Publishers Weekly
Praise for the Perveen Mistry novels
“Well-researched and convincing.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Marvelously plotted, richly detailed.” —The Washington Post
"Massey offers a striking depiction of India in the 1920s, complete with maps, detailed descriptions of the customs of the time, and a panoramic cast of characters from every social stratum. A complex whodunit that also provides a fascinating immersion in a bygone era." —Kirkus Reviews
“Massey is very good at evoking period details, but she really excels at illuminating the deeply ingrained restrictions imposed by racism, sexism and India’s caste system. Her historical research is thorough but worn lightly, and her concerns with social injustice are never preachy.” —The Seattle Times
“Perveen Mistry has all the pluck you want in a sleuthing lawyer, as well as a not-so-surprising—but decidedly welcome—proclivity for poking her nose into the business of others. The pages do indeed fly.” —The Globe and Mail