Murder Under a Red Moon by Harini Nagendra: A review
This is the second book in the Bangalore Detectives Club series and the second book by Harini Nagendra that I have read. The books feature newly wed amateur sleuth Kaveri Murthy. The events of this book take place a few weeks after Kaveri has solved her first case and become well-known as a lady detective in 1920s Bangalore.
As the new bride of the local doctor, Kaveri is trying to work out her relationship with her mother-in-law and so when the mother-in-law's cousin, Shanti Sharma, wants to enlist her help in finding out who has been embezzling money from her husband's factory, Kaveri feels she cannot refuse. But when she goes to the factory at the appointed time to meet with Mr. Sharma, she finds him dead. Not only has he been murdered but he is holding a chain belonging to Kaveri in his hands.
Obviously, someone is trying to implicate Kaveri in his murder, but why? And who could it be? Has Shanti rid herself of an unwanted husband and set up Kaveri to take the fall? Or could it be her stepdaughter Chitra who was being forced against her will to get married? And then there is that very suspicious swami who Kaveri believes cannot be trusted. There seems to be no shortage of possible suspects.
Kaveri is Hindu but she has become good friends with the local policeman, a Muslim named Ismail. Nagendra manages to include colorful descriptions of the culture of the region and to explore the differences between Hinduism and Islam which later caused so much conflict.
She is able to reveal the culture and the differences through her descriptions of the people whom Kaveri enlists in her "posse" which includes such diverse people as a prostitute and a policeman's wife. There are even a couple of street urchins who seem to have appointed themselves as her helpers.
Kaveri has also assumed the role of teacher to help her women neighbors learn how to read and write. There are, in fact, several subplots playing out here which added interest and complications to the main story.
In the Bangalore of the 1920s, anti-British sentiment is on the rise, the women's suffrage movement is growing in influence, and a religious leader's sway over his followers continues to expand. It makes for an unpredictable and dangerous atmosphere, but Kaveri is undeterred! Her curiosity and her determination will not let her give up on any mystery until she has solved it. I foresee an interesting future as a detective for her.