For The Love Of Parvati (Five Star Mystery Series)
by Susan Oleksiw
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432828561
Date: 21 May 2014 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Olekwiz continues the adventures of Anita Ray, an Indian photographer, and occasional sleuth, in her latest mystery For the Love of Parvati. Anita and her aunt Meena take a trip to the foothills of Kerala to visit Anita's Aunt Lalita. They encounter police roadblocks along the way and discover all is not well with Lalita and her family. A suspicious death places other lives in jeopardy including Anita's.
The Anita Ray Mysteries provide insights into Indian culture and customs. Ray is half-Indian, the daughter of a mixed marriage: an Indian mother and an Irish-American father. As a photographer, she has developed a keen eye for telling details that when coupled with her intelligence and knowledge of India and its customs, enables her to solve crimes others cannot. Intrepid, she often places herself in danger.
The trip to visit Aunt Lalita is part of Aunt Meena's efforts to make a match for Anita with Lalita's son, Prakash, a Hindu priest. Those efforts are unwelcome by both parties. Anita already has a satisfactory relationship and is not interested in her cousin.
The Parvarti of the title is a servant to Lalita, but has entered the country illegally and keeps her past life hidden. Unfortunately, forces are at work that may harm her and the family she serves. Unaware of the danger, the family focuses instead on its own problems.
A long time servant of Lalita's has gone on a pilgrimage with other men from the village, but no one saw him leave with the pilgrims. Her suspicions aroused, Anita questions the villagers and the servant's family. She begins to fear for him.
The visit to Lalita reveals faults and fissures within the family Anita had not seen in the past. Lalita has indulged her children, but especially her son. She beggared herself both for the son and to provide a dowry for her daughter. The son is accused of stealing from the temple, the daughter wants to divorce her husband, and Anita finds a dead man. Now she blames her son-in-law for not helping her son in his current situation.
When Anita discovers a dead man near an old footbridge, her photographs and observations prove crucial in proving the man was murdered and not a flood victim. Eventually he is identified as a terrorist from Sri Lanka.
The mystery will satisfy cozy fans with the added aspect of insights into another culture. After insuring her Aunt Meena is safely out of harm's way, Anita faces danger with Lalita's family when an terrorist comes to complete his revenge. The ending will please some, but not others.
Everything does not end well for all.
Oleksiw studied in India and knows the country well. She provides a sympathetic, but clear-eyed view of Indian culture and the challenges young people face in a traditional culture where family relationships are so important. Most readers will eagerly await Anita Ray's next adventure.