The Bangalore Detectives Club

Harini Nagendra. Pegasus Crime, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-63936-159-5

Nagendra (Cities and Canopies: Trees in Indian Cities) makes her fiction debut with an exceptional series launch. In 1921, 19-year-old Kaveri Murthy, who has a passion for advanced mathematics, lives just outside the sprawling city of Bangalore. While Kaveri and her physician husband, Ramu, are attending a reception at the prestigious Century Club, the body of a pimp is found murdered in the garden. When the deputy inspector of the local police force arrives to investigate, Kaveri confides that she saw the dead man in the garden with his hands around the throat of a beautiful woman. Kaveri’s desire to see justice done takes her from the bastions of British wealth to humble mud-floored shacks. By placing her intelligent and clear-eyed protagonists in the multilayered and multicultural milieu of colonial India, Nagendra, a university professor in Bangalore, imbues this mystery with a rich, edifying, and authentic feel. She rounds out the volume with easy-to-follow recipes for dishes like spiced rice with lentils, a welcome change from the sugary fare that culinary cozy recipes typically offer. Readers will hope Kaveri and Ramu will be back soon. Agent: Priya Doraswamy, Lotus Literary. (May)