Friday, July 27, 2012

J is for Jung, Muzaffar

Muzaffar Jung is the detective in Madhulika Liddle's mysteries set during the Mughal times.
Here is how the author describes him:

A tall young man stood at the prow of the boat watching the spectacle. He was about twenty-five years old, broad-shouldered and fine-featured. He wore no beard, and his moustache was short and well-trimmed. The rich green choga and the sturdy boots he had on marked him as an omrah, a nobleman; the unfashionable lack of jewellery and embroidery on his clothing marked him also something of a maverick.

Having lost his mother in early childhood and his father being a military commander, always on the move, Jung has been brought up by his elder sister and her husband, Khan Sahib, who is a kotwal. Moving both amongst the upper echelons and the lower dregs of society, Jung has a keen interest in solving mysteries.




In The English Man's Cameo, his first adventure, he is asked to investigate the murder of one Mirza Murad Begh. When the body of Begh is discovered by the police, Faisal, a jeweller's assistant and a friend of Jung, is loitering nearby. The police promptly arrest him and the case against him becomes even darker when it comes to light that he had had a quarrel with Begh. In desperation, Faisal's wife turns to Jung and asks him to use his resources to prove her husband's innocence,

Jung thus sets out on an adventure that brings him in contact with not one but two beautiful ladies, one of whom is murdered shortly too. Is there a connection between the two deaths? As the investigation turns sinister, Jung himself is shot at by a poisoned arrow.

More than the mystery, I loved the way the author evoked the Mughal era. A weak and doddering Shahjahan is on the throne while his beloved Mumtaz lies dead. The Taj is being built but the Mughal empire is facing an economic ruin. To compound to Shahjahan's woe, his favorite son and heir-apparent, the learned and secular Dara Shukoh, is not liked by many powerful people while the bigot Aurangzeb is on the verge of rebelling. But even as twilight descends, Dilli is alive with men from foreign parts and there are cafes selling the new brew, coffee - Allah, so bitter...

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First Line: The musicians had stopped playing, and the room had gone quiet except for the sound of the young girl trying to catch her breath.

Title: The English Man's Cameo

Author: Madhulika Liddle

Publication Details: Gurgaon: Hachette India, 2009

First Published: 2009

Pages: 281

Other Books read of the same author: None

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The book can easily be ordered online. I borrowed it from the College Library [823.09 L619E]

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Submitted for the South Asian Challenge


Also submitted for the following challenges: Criminal Plots II, Mystery and Suspense, New Authors, Wishlist

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Entry for letter J in the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme.


4 comments:

  1. Sounds like a very interesting book because of the setting.

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    1. Yes Tracy, it is the setting which is so fascinating. If you are tired of mysteries set in the western world or the contemporary era, try this book. I liked the glimpse I got of a different world.

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    2. A good choice for the letter J, Neer

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    3. Thanks Kerrie. Have you read the book?

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