Murder in a Bygone Era
Semeen Ali
THE BOMBAY PRINCE: A MYSTERY OF 1920s INDIA by Sujata Massey Soho Crime, 2021, 360 pp., 317.00
December 2021, volume 45, No 12

‘Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta’, Mithan said. ‘It means good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. We think about this every day; it is a tenet of our faith.’

The Bombay Prince is set in 1921 with Edward VIII, Prince of Wales and the future ruler of India coming to India, which sets off riots in Bombay as many protest against his visit. An eighteen-year-old Parsi female student Freny Cuttingmaster falls to her death from the second floor of her college. Her death occurs around the time the Prince is passing by the college. The events that it sets off and the people that get embroiled in solving/getting investigated related to the cause of death set off questions that are no longer limited to solving a murder mystery.

Freny was an ordinary girl who had died; but in the gaze of the city, she was so much more. She was a tool for the imperialists to use against the nationalists, and a cautionary tale for city parents to use against daughters who dared to study alongside males.

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