It is always a delight to read homespun stories, for me especially the ones that are set in Delhi. The Eight Guest by Madhulika Liddle is the second book from the author that I read last week. And I am in sheer love with Muzaffar Jang and his escapades. A sharp mind with a devil lies in details attitude, Jang for me now is homegrown Sherlock Holmes.
The Eighth Guest is a collection of 10 short stories, so twisted in nature that only Muzaffar Jang can solve the mystery lying in them. The Eighth Guest opens with the story of “The Missing Corpse”. Muzaffar Jang is lying on a cot, reviving from the injuries of the last case he solved, the one involving the Englishman’s cameo. Now Muzaffar must help Ibrahim Hussain, a well-known face in court who fears that a murder was committed in his house, which involves one of his close relatives as the culprit.
Book Review: The Englishman’s Cameo by Madhulika Liddle
The dead body is missing, and there is only blood in Hussain Sahab’s Qutb Khana (the library). Hussain Sahab is a bibliophile, and the murderer has struck his weakness. The only thing he has left is a chest full of tattered and torn books; like a wolf has used his paws to tear them apart. Hussain Sahab thinks that his brother Zafar has committed the crime, as they recently had a fight over his expenses and inheritance.
But Muzaffar knows that things are not as simple as they look. And in the end, when he solves the case, you will fall in love with Jang and his sharp mind. And yes, the devil did lie in details only. Jang only had to listen to everyone patiently and not miss anything, something that I deeply admire about this character.
After the story of “The Missing Corpse”, The Eighth Guest starts building up into a collection of stories so rich in entertainment that you cannot keep it down. One by one, every story comes up with a delicious twist which pulls your mind into the vortex of Muzaffar’s intellect. It’s like eating your favorite dish, you can’t have enough of it.
Muzaffar Jang in The Eights Guest also makes us come across the Mughal culture. He is like a window to the past of Delhi, where baoli’s exist, royal elephants fight for the entertainment of others, people reciting Saadi, including him in their daily lives. It’s a world which never fails to fascinate any reader. And that’s what makes Jang series a great read for me. Out of The Eighth Guest, my favorite stories were The Pachydermal Puzzle, The Bequeathed Garden and One Night in Winter.
But I have a small problem with the theme story, The Eight Guest. I was able to guess who the murderer/ culprit was. Only a minute little thing, but yes bothered me a lot. But then when I carried on with other stories in The Eight Guest, I was mesmerized as always.
All in all, The Eight Guest and Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries is a book that you can pick up anytime when you feel like working your brain on some delicious twists. Or if you feel like visiting the old world Mughal charm.