Oxford educated Perveen Mistry is the daughter of a successful Bombay lawyer, women are just being allowed to practice law in the early 1920’s but cannot argue cases in court. Perveen’s work is tied up in drafting documents, rather than standing on her hind legs in a courtroom arguing before a judge. Massey modeled Perveen on real women of the era, showing what it would be like to be one of the first to break into the practice of law, during a time that India was chaffing under British rule and flexing its determination for independence.
Alice Hobson-Jones, Perveen’s best friend at Oxford, is the daughter of Sir David Hobson-Jones, a high-ranking government official. He has a spot of bother in a remote hill station he would like Perveen to sort out. Satapur is one of the princely states, the maharaja died of an illness recently, his heir is a young boy. The maharaja’s mother and wife have vastly different ideas about his education, he will soon be expected to rule his state thus it is important to resolve. One wants the child kept close, the other would like him sent to boarding school in England. The hill station’s political agent, Colin Wythe Sandringham, has made no headway in reaching a choice or compromise. Being a British male, he has not gained access to the two women. What they need is a lawyer to broker an agreement between the mother and grandmother, a female Indian lawyer would be all the better.
But the maharinis are not being solely obstinate, they are worried about the safety of the young prince. His elder brother died tragically in an accident, then his father takes suddenly ill and dies. What started out as a negotiation over education has turned deadly.
— Deon Stonehouse
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. Her novels have won the Agatha and Macavity awards and been finalists for the Edgar, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark prizes. The first Perveen Mistry novel, The Widows of Malabar Hill, was an international bestseller. Visit her website at sujatamassey.com.