Busy, you know, with a bit of this and a lot of that. But I am moved to say that The Case of the Missing Servant by written by Tarquin Hall and read by Sam Dastor is one of the best detective audiobooks I’ve ever had pass through my shell-like. And I’m a connoisseur, believe me.
It’s the combination of excellent writing rooted deeply in both India and the humorous detective tradition and a reader steeped in both. The sense of place evoked by both text and reader combine to produce something much greater than I would be able to conjure by reading the printed page.
And it’s hysterical. I don’t mean the mental-smile, nor the twitch-of-the-lips funny, nor the slight-audible-grunt of amusement. I mean the kind of funny that leaves me, at least, with tears running down my face, gasping for breath, sprained muscles and the danger of further paroxysms merely recalling the episodes in question.
The text is acutely observed and (so Indian reviewers confirm) an excellent and non-judgemental dissection of the multi-layered realities of the dominant Punjabi culture in Delhi and its environs. The reader, Sam Dastor, was born in Mumbai and appears, to this auditor at least, to have every word, accent and mannerism skewered.
The only disadvantage to listening to the audio version that I can work out or imagine is the absence of the glossary. The text, apparently, has full annotation and the section detailing the food is said to be particularly mouth-watering. I can merely listen to the sound of the words and lust, in vain, to taste whatever it is they denote.