My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved the plot, the characters, the setting, and the trip back to the early 80s.
On the day of Nitya Chaturvedi's well-deserved promotion to senior management at The New India Courier, a riot erupted inside the old sector of the city known as Old Delhi. Railcars were burned, shops vandalized and looted, and when it was all said and done, 11 people had been killed and dozens injured.But the incident was still very different than the communal riots that had plagued the ancient walled city. Rather than lasting for days at a time, this one peaked and dissipated within hours, and no one could identify what had touched things off in the first place. Even the torched railcars had been empty ones. Another oddity; one of the victims killed suddenly disappeared – all official records of his death gone, along with the body.
Disgraced senior police officer, Shankar Sen, was on patrol in Old Delhi near the riot's epicenter when the first report was made. He and his driver discovered the first two murder victims in an alleyway near the rail station, their bodies burned. It is one of these bodies that inexplicably goes missing, and Sen is compelled to unravel the secrecy.Meanwhile, Nitya and her team of reporters at The New India Courier are tasked with writing features about each of the ten victims. When one of her new young journalists discovers they should be looking into the background of 11 lost lives, she teams up with her old friend, Shankar Sen, to get to the bottom of the cover-up, which may involve key members in the police and government itself.
Death in the Walled City is a moody and engaging mystery set in the winter of 1983 in New Delhi. Seeing the inner workings of Nitya's newspaper was intriguing, as was her working environment and the culture of the early 1980s. She was a woman in a man's world. The old boys' club, the office politics of the time, strategic relationships and alliances among colleagues, and the rumor mill are all on full and glorious display. She's joined the senior ranks and there are those that would be glad to see her fail.The investigation into what was behind this unusual riot was captivating, and the location and culture of Old Delhi were fascinating. The contrasts among the characters' lives were eye-opening, with two separate, and not equal, Indias apparent. I rooted for the underdogs, Shiv and Shankar Sen, and was "all-in" on Nitya's success in her quest for answers from the start.
I really enjoyed the subplots involving the characters' personal and their families. Nitya's mother's machinations to find her a husband was fun. But her sister's marital situation was left at a pivotal juncture. Also, I felt for Shankar and his struggle to balance his work life and family life. I hope there are future books planned so I can see what becomes of these people.There is quite a bit of exposition throughout the novel. This had me worried, initially, that the book was going to be a lot of telling and not enough showing. However, I came to believe this information was to catch readers up with what had happened historically, not only with the city and culture but with the two main characters, Nitya and Shankar Sen, who have a prior history together. (There is a previous book in which they meet.) But the bottom line is I loved the plot, the characters, the exotic (to me) setting, and the trip back to the early 80s.
I recommend DEATH IN THE WALLED CITY for mystery readers who enjoy stories featuring investigative reporters, underdog police officers, strong female protagonists, a historical time frame, and a setting in India.I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.
See my original review on Reedsy Discovery!