Cover Image: The Dying Day

The Dying Day

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Member Reviews

I loved this book which is the second in this series. It had a great pace, writing, setting and mystery. Khan is great, and I'd read from him anytime.
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Thrillers about historical treasure hunting have always been a weakness of mine, so getting an ARC for one with a woman of color as the protagonist as well as being set in a non-Western country was a treat.

Persis is the only woman detective in India, and the pressure is getting to her. Not only is she shuffled off into a smaller office, she is blatantly told her career will never advance. And there’s the issue of her romantic feelings for Archie, the English forensics expert working with her.

It’s a bit of a slow start, and things didn’t really kick off until the Nazis showed up, but there was some really amazing scene setting. Post WWII Bombay breathed on the page. There was a lot of historically accurate information used, which really helped the world feel real.

The side characters were well fleshed out. I really liked seeing Persis’s relationships with her family, her friends, and her coworkers. We really got to see her in a variety of situations, all demanding something different from her and from the people around her.

The introduction of Nazis added some thrilling action to the treasure hunt, but the further addition of the Freemasons in the last 8% of the book was a little much for me. Combined with too much exposition at the end and an unsatisfying ending, meant I didn’t really like the ending. But the hook of Persis being willing to speak at a conference for professional women, and the strength of the rest of the book are encouraging enough for me to pick up a next book.
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I had read some of the Inspector Chopra series of books by this author and really enjoyed them , after winning a Twitter competition for a proof copy, This is the second book in a different series featuring a female police officer Persis Wadia. Set in post-partition Bombay we get a real sense of the time period and political atmosphere in the background of the novel. I really enjoyed Persis as a character. Her relationship with her family was well written and they were warm and inviting. They felt real, as if I could just walk in and they’d be there. Her relationships with colleagues were equally interesting, especially since Persis isn’t always polite or good at small talk. I love her straight to the point attitude though and think it created a subtilely humorous exchange here and there. 

It must have been very difficult to pitch her character properly, because she’s a police officer at a time and place that’s not the norm. She could have felt too modern for the time period, or too submissive as a woman to feel like a real police officer. I think the author gets it right, and without it overshadowing the plot of the mystery she’s investigating. There’s also the attention she receives from the media. As Bombay’s first female police officer she’s something of a trailblazer, but on top there’s her notoriety from the last case she investigated in Midnight at Malabar House. This puts her in the spotlight a little, which she’s very unimpressed with and her personality doesn’t always come across well at first meeting. Her awkwardness is very touching, especially when it comes to her personal life. She seems to have feelings for one colleague, an English forensic scientist called Archie. Of course, if her feelings were reciprocated there would be the problem of being a mixed race couple. It’s only early 1950’s and the country has just gone through the horrors of partition after the British rule ended. Her family think she should steer clear of controversy, especially being such a high profile police officer. 

Her investigation is at the Royal British Asiatic Society where both a manuscript and employee have gone missing, John Healy is a man traumatised by his experiences as a prisoner of war during WW2. He appears to have left some sort of trail, clues and riddles as to where the manuscript is, but are they genuine and is John in his right mind? There are political implications too, piling the pressure on Persis to solve the treasure hunt. In the background there’s another case, investigating the murder of a white woman. George Fernandes has been given lead detective, but Persis is finding it hard to work with him, due to unresolved feelings of betrayal in their last case. 

Thanks to Khan’s detailed description of the city I felt fully immersed in the sounds, sights and smells of India in the mid-20th Century. This is an India that’s just learning to stand on its own two feet after years of British rule then WW2. Khan evokes a colourful, vibrant, India where the mix of colours, religions and cultural rituals bring it to life. Persis is an anomaly, the only woman in a man’s world but she is intelligent, focused and up to the job. She does have flaws though, she’s feisty and prickly with others at times and not very good at being a team player. She is a loner, at work and at home. This is something she and George have in common as we find out towards at the end. Of course Persis is in a constant battle with male members of the team, belittling or appropriating her achievements but she handles this well. I think this is shaping up to be a very enjoyable series which has ‘Sunday night TV drama’ written all over it.
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I loved Persis' first appearance in Midnight at Malabar House, it's so good to be with her again. As ever, we learn so much about India in the early days of independence, and the plot/puzzle involving The Divine Comedy was a whole new learning curve for me. Hugely enjoyable. Vaseem is an author you can trust to entertain and inform.
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This is second in series featuring the post-independence Bombay detective Persis Wadia. The first one was a murder mystery and this one takes the treasure hunt track. 
Worth a read.  I enjoyed it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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The second book in the Malabar House series has vivid historical detail, vibrant characters, and a tantalising mystery to solve. Set in 1950s Bombay, the legacy of WW2, British rule and the cultural and religious divisions make this a fascinating read.  

Persis Wadis is the first female inspector of police. She achieved national infamy from her position and previous case. A believably complex woman driven by her need to succeed in the face of family doubts, institutional misogyny and self-doubt, she analytically approaches her cases but often puts herself in dangerous situations. 

The story has an engaging balance of investigation and personal exploration of the detective's life. Her father's bookshop is a special place for Persis, and many clues to her cases are discovered within the pages of the books.

A multi-layered mystery with shadowy characters, political intrigue and echoes of WW2 illuminates India's role in WW2 as another source of tension between India and its colonial past. Intricate cyphers and puzzles are woven into the plot for the investigation team and reader to solve. An engaging mix of action, cerebral detective skills and introspection make this a page-turner.

Hints of romance, friendship and family drama make this an authentic and entertaining historical crime mystery with characters and historical details that resonate.

I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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The Dying Day by Vaseem Kahn is one of the most intricate and intriguing books I’ve read recently. It’s a puzzle in the guise of a novel. Why did a renowned scholar steal a priceless centuries old manuscript of Dante’s The Divine Comedy? To solve it, Persis, the first female investigator in 1950’s India, will have to solve a series of intricate smaller puzzles. The reader is afforded the opportunity to solve these puzzles as well, although some of them take advanced knowledge of Bombay and at least one is a book cypher requiring the correct book. Either way, it’s an engaging read and enjoyable to follow Persis through Bombay as she solves each puzzle in turn.

The manuscript is also of interest to several individuals including an Italian scholar who would like to return it to Dante’s home country of Italy, an American who wants to convince India to allow The Smithsonian to take possession of it, and an unknown man whose interest isn’t immediately evident. The case gets more complex as Persis becomes aware that the manuscript is also being hunted by a Nazi who is in Bombay and using false identification papers.

As Persis works to solve the puzzles and find the manuscript, the co-worker who tried to undermine her in the public eye during a previous case is tasked with solving the murder of a young woman. Persis is given the responsibility of supervising him which leads to clashes between the two as their supervisor tasks them both with learning how to work together. Anger, mistrust, and resentment all appear to hamper the process of these two successfully solving their cases.

Persis is one of the most complex lead characters I’ve encountered lately. She’s prickly, quick to anger, and torn between her desire to be a modern woman with a successful career in the police and the frustration of being overlooked or marginalized by both the men she works with and the public because she is a woman.

The book is excellently written, with a superb plot and a pace that will keep the reader engaged long past their anticipated reading time. It is the second book in the Malabar House series and also works well as a stand alone. If a reader begins the series with this book, it is likely they will want to go and pick up the first one to read while they anxiously await publication of the third one. At least, that is my plan.

My thanks to Hodder and Stoughton Publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy for this review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
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Thank you Netgalley, Vaseem Khan and Hodder & Stoughton for the Advanced reader copy.

The Dying Day is the second novel in the Malabar House series. This book is set in 1950s India after the second world war and the independence of India. It follows Persis Wadia, India's first female police detective, in her investigation looking for the stolen Dante Manuscript. Various riddles lead her on a scavenger hunt through Bombay while the stakes are getting higher.

Representation: (view spoiler)
Content warnings: (view spoiler)

CAWPILE Rating: 7.57 => 4 Stars

Characters: 7.5
Atmosphere: 7
Writing: 8
Plot: 8.5
Intrigue : 7
Logic: 7
Enjoyment: 8

I never read the first one but this did not alter my enjoyment of this book. I actually might go back and read the first novel.

I really enjoyed this treasure hunt of a book, It felt like the DaVinci Code set in India. Really enjoyed all the historical integration of post-independent India and WWII.
Parsis was a really interesting character to follow, being amazing at her job but having to fight discrimination being a woman in a men's world. Vaseem Khan also integrated the relationships and the views on relationships between Indian and English people at that time were really well.
I definitely can say I learned a lot of history from this novel.
The side characters were however a bit flat, I also constantly forget who was who and had to read a few lines before I remembered how they connected into the story

The mystery was also interesting and gave a great treasure hunt through Bombay where the stakes were getting higher and higher throughout the novel. (view spoiler)
I do have to say one of the lesser points was that as the reader you could not solve the riddles with the main character. Parsis constantly had eureka moments and would go to that place and there was not enough info for the reader to come to this ourselves.
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A well written gripping historical thriller that takes you on a journey through past history that is unique and powerful.
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There is absolutely no doubt that Vaseem Khan’s The Dying Day will claim in a place in my Top Ten of the Year, being a superb follow up to Midnight At Malabar House, which also appeared in my final round up of 2020. Persis Wadia is a fantastic character, being an intelligent, astute and utterly focussed female police officer, grappling with the natural misogyny that arises from her position, but also for the layers of personal tribulation that Khan builds into her character. Coupled with this, Khan has constructed a mystery that is blindingly clever and intricate that will appeal to all bibliophiles, centred on the theft of a literary treasure. There are riddles and ciphers along the way, that not only test Persis and her colleagues, but will also baffle and misdirect the reader too, leading to a rich and rewarding reading experience. Khan also demonstrates his trademark precision in his rendering of the historical detail of the period, giving the reader a real sense of India emerging from the suffocation of British rule, and finding its feet in a new era, not wholly untroubled by violence and division. I completely loved The Dying Day from start to finish, and came out of the other side of it totally sated by not only the characterisation, but also the feeling of having read a truly satisfying and intriguing crime mystery. Wholeheartedly recommending this one to you all.
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What a glorious read! May Persis Wadia share many more cases with us. 

Inspector Persis Wadia, the first woman inspector for the Indian Police is called to the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland when a priceless copy of Dante Alighieri’s La Divina Commedia - The Divine Comedy dating back to the fourteenth century disappears along with John Healy, one of the world’s foremost Dante scholars (employed by the Society as the Curator of Manuscripts). Wadia is left with nothing but riddles to track down, not just the book but also John Healy. 

At the same time, the body of a foreign white woman has been found next to a railway line. Can this be connected to the missing book? 

Vaseem Khan is a brilliant author. I first discovered his writing through the Baby Ganesh Agency series featuring Inspector Chopra. This is the second book featuring Persis Wadia. A “no-nonsense” female detective whose father owns a bookshop, filled with books covering every subject from very old to modern. We get to know this bookshop thanks to Persis having to search through literature to find the clues Healy has left behind. 

There’s a gentle side to Persis, which is very seldom on show, especially in front of her fellow officers, simply because they’d walk all over her – women in India in the 1950s were not supposed to have reached positions like police inspectors – not just because men viewed them as inferior beings but also people like her aunt, who advocates that all women should be married – not running around in a uniform carrying a gun. However, now, and then, Persis will get dressed up in one of the fine garments that her aunt has purchased for her, and this is when we see the truly beautiful feminine side of her. 

This novel is so much more than simply the search for a priceless book. It is filled with riddles and history and just some of the most awesome characters I’ve ever encountered in a storyline. 

Rony

Elite Reviewing Group received a copy of the book to review.
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This was a gripping, intelligent mystery, even better than the first accomplished work of the series. In this book, Persia truly shines as an exceptional detective, refusing to be cowed by the misogyny and male dominant culture around her. It was also fascinating to read about WWII from an Indian perspective. And now the long wait until the next one….many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
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Persis Wadia is India’s first female police detective. In 1950s Bombay, that means work life can be difficult. When a rare and precious Dante manuscript disappears from the Bombay Royal Asiatic Society and a young woman is found murdered, Persis must keep her cool and solve a complex set of riddles on the trail to find the killer and recover the priceless manuscript. Intriguing clues, interesting characters, an engaging mystery.
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Hmmm. Perhaps it's because I hadn't read the first one or perhaps this book isn't quite for me 'cause it just struggled to keep my attention throughout. This is what you're in for if you grab this:

✨1950s India
✨A murdery whodunit
✨The first female inspector trying to do her damn job

Persis Wadia is a woman. She also happens to be the first female inspector on the force and spend her entire career need to prove herself. After being tasked with finding a stolen manuscript, a whole bunch of deceit, codes and the odd murder are thrown at her along with the added pressure of the story leaking.

I was dead excited for this book. The idea of a bad-ass inspector paving the way for women whilst holding back the patriarchy should have been right up my street but I just couldn't sink my teeth into it and I legit can't tell you why.

The story is well crafted, the family caught my attention (the dad def got a few chuckles out of me), but I just couldn't love Persis. I'm sure she's lovely and we'd be pals in real life, but not in this book.

HOWEVER! That ending was perfect and whilst not technically a happy one, it's a big ol' stomp in the right direction for this character👌 People will absolutely love this.
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must confess to never reading any of Vaseem Khan's previous books, but the sound of a 1950s female police inspector, some Indian history and a big dollop of  Da Vinci Code-esq page turning made me take the plunge with The Dying Day – and I'm glad I did.  Inspector Persis Wadia is a great protagonist. The post second world war and  Indian independence setting provides lots of scope for conflict and intrigue and it means Persis is presented as a believable person with her own battles with her personal social standing and prejudices never far from the surface, as she fights the separate prejudices of any of those around her. Also, any bock that has another book going missing  - a six-hundred-year-old copy of Dante's The Divine Comedy in this instance, is always going to pull me in. 

This is the second book in the Malabar House series, and on this evidence, I'll be back for the next.
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Sadly I didn’t finish this book.

I found it very slow, dull and unrealistic. Characters were pretentious with their knowledge that they kindly shared with others, but even though a lot of them were academics, the amount of information wasn’t very believable.

I was hoping for a murder mystery mixed with the history of India in the 1950s; instead I got a mediocre detective story that lacked pace and excitement. It’s a shame, because it had promise, but needs a lot of editing to take the story to the next level.
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It's great to be back to Malabar House and read another Persis Wadia's investigation.
It's a multilayered, complex and fascinating story that mixes historical facts and fiction. An excellent depiction of Indian society after the independence  and the struggle of a woman to manage her own life.
The plot is gripping, fast paced and full of twists. It kept me turning pages and guessing till the end.
The characters are fleshed out, Persis is a strong woman and I like how she relates to her contemporary society and what a woman is expected to be.
The historical background is vivid and well researched.
It's a great story that i strongly recommend.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I am a HUGE fan of the Inspector Chopra/ Baby Ganesh books by this author and I also really enjoyed the first in the series following the lead character here, Persis Wadia, so I was delighted to be offered an ARC of this book.

The Dying Day is a pacy novel that cracks along like all Khan's work. I read it all too quickly and then chastise myself for not having let it last a bit longer! I have typically given Khan's work 5 stars and have given this one 4 for a few reasons: I felt that Persis got a bit too strident with her lecturing, there were a few points where I felt there was unnecessary repetition and also the clues had a little too much of a whiff of Dan Brown for my taste. Also, I'm not sure about the ex boyfriend who keeps popping up - I felt the author could get rid of mentions of him and the narrative would be better for it. Will that stop me reading the next book? Absolutely not! 

On the upside, I love Persis as a character when she's not in lecturing mode. I love her relationship with her family members, the well-drawn relationships with her fellow officers and her general less-than-lovable demeanour, which is charming in its own way. I love reading about post-Partition India and the issues the country is facing. In Khan's hands and with such evocative writing, the India of old rises from the pages.

I look forward to the next in the series! 

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton, Vaseem Khan and NetGalley for a copy of this ARC, in exchange for an honest review.
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When the first book in this series came out, I was happy for a new book from Mr. Khan, but upset that he was not currently writing a new "Inspector Chopra" book. And then I read it and all was forgiven. With this second installment in the "Malabar House" series, my admiration for Mr. Khan and his writing just continues to grow, as well as my love for Persis Wadia and all things India. 

It is rare for me to develop book crushes - I have never been one to swoon over Mr. Darcy [though the actors that play him are a completely different story! ;-) ] or anyone like that, so if I develop a real affection for a character, it means that they have to be extremely well-written. This is where I am with Persis Wadia. She is absolutely amazing. Even when she is frustrating [going alone to the astronomy tower at night Persis? R E A L L Y??? Sigh], she is amazing. Her non-existent people skills is something I strive for [someday I will be able to say exactly what I feel and not worry what people will think of me and then walk away from it as well], and I love how she fights for herself in every way she knows how, even when she is fighting Aunt Nussy [who is formidable in her own right and who Persis is more like than she's like to admit, just in a way different way] and her campaign of making a "girl" out of Persis. She is also a top-notch Inspector/investigator, with the kind of analytical mind that every mystery loving person both loves and wishes they had. She is close to being the perfect character, which is really rare. Well done Mr. Khan. 

The only negative for me with this book [aside from my continuing learning about India and Partition and wishing I knew more] was that is was centered around Dante's Inferno and I have not yet read that and I spent quite a bit of time going "what? WHAT does that even mean" [though I admit it has made me even more intrigued about it and I know that I will have to read it in the next year or so] all while being intrigued by the poetry of Inferno and how it was used to lead Persis and her team on an extremely extravagant treasure hunt, which led to a very clever reveal and ending. And while I guessed several things much earlier than Persis did, I didn't know the why or where and even the knowing  didn't take away from the amazingness of this book and the end was very well done - and hopefully leaves it open for more books. Because I will not be a happy camper if Persis is regulated to just two books; she deserves so many more. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Vaseem Khan, and Hodder and Stoughton [UK] for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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“The Dying Day” is my introduction to Vaseem Khan and I am so grateful to make his acquaintance! What a fabulous mystery! It has everything one wants in a good whodunit and more!

The setting is India in 1950 and our leading lady, Persis, is the first female inspector. She is set a “peripheral” case which grows and become entangled with so much more. The complexity of post-colonial Bombay and its rich history is deftly handled.

Each character is multifaceted and beautifully written. The story is immersive and fast-paced, once begun it’s very tricky to put down! I loved it all!

If you enjoy a good historical novel, don’t miss this one! I’ll be enjoying many more from Vaseem I’m sure! And my first stop will be the first of this series, not necessary to appreciate this one but I’m sure I’m going to be captivated by it! It’s a five out of five on the enJOYment scale.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Hodder & Stoughton through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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