My first novel, The Englishman’s Cameo, published for the Indian subcontinent by Hachette India, is a detective story set in 17th century Delhi.
Here’s what it’s about:
“Muzaffar Jang is that rare creature in Mughal Emperor Shahjahan’s Dilli – an aristocrat with friends in low places. One of whom, Faisal, stands accused of murder. When the body of Mirza Murad Begh is found stabbed in the chest, lying in a water channel in the Qila, poor Faisal is the only one around. But what of the fact that, right before his demise, the victim had stepped out of the haveli of Shahjahanabad’s most ravishing courtesan? Could not the sultry Mehtab Banu, and her pale, delicate sister Gulnar have something to do with the murder? Determined to save his friend, Muzaffar decides to investigate, with only a cup now and then of that new-fangled brew – Allah, so bitter – called coffee to help him…”
The Englishman’s Cameo was launched in New Delhi on October 7, 2009, followed by launches in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. More book events at other cities such as Gurgaon, Pune and Lucknow are planned tentatively for February 2010.
Pradeep Sebastian, Business World:
“…Set in Mughal India, the plot swiftly unfolds a little over 250 pages (a nice size for a mystery) through dialogue that is nimble and revealing. Its intimate picture of life in Emperor Shahjanhan’s Dilli resembles a delicate Mughal miniature. Liddle’s Muzaffar Jang is a likeable hero, and she surrounds him with several sympathetic characters that one hopes will keep turning up if The Englishman’s Cameo becomes the first of a series featuring the young, maverick omrah detective…” Read more
Shakti Swaminathan, The Hindu:
“…The writing style is vivid and descriptive. The Red Fort, bustling market places, moon lit Yamuna and the traditional palanquins; the symbolic imagery of yesteryear Mughal court erupt alive. With the young and hot-blooded Muzaffar Jang following the trail to help his friend from being executed we have an Agatha Christie style plot in hand. The book is quick read, being just over 270 pages. The story finishes before one feels the toll of an overdose of history…” Read more
Zac O’Yeah, Deccan Herald:
“…The Englishman’s Cameo is a genuinely promising debut. Its originality and freshness is its strongest point, and — after the dramatic resolution — one shuts the book hoping that Madhulika Liddle will continue with her literary project and act as a path-breaker for other history-mystery writers in order to build this fabulous genre’s South Asian avatar.” Read more
Gargi Gupta, The Hindustan Times:
“…The Englishman’s Cameo is a fast-paced yarn written in snappy prose. It also succeeds in evoking the Mughal era through its manners, fashions, jewels and architecture. There’s blood, dead bodies every 50 pages or so, and even a love interest to keep readers hooked…” Read more
Some features and interviews:
Amrita Dutta, Indian Express:
“That is where the murder would have occurred.” We are at the Hayat Baksh Bagh inside the Red Fort, now a shrunken memory of the beautiful imperial garden it once was. Eyes follow author Madhulika Liddle’s finger beyond the fringe of the garden to a spot about a hundred metres away. We hungrily imagined the thrust of the dagger, the muffled cry, the body soaked in blood. We are near the scene of the first murder in the 37-year-old author’s debut novel, The Englishman’s Cameo, a whodunnit set in 17th-century Shahjahanabad…” Read more
Rrishi Raote, Business Standard:
“…In Muzaffar Jang, first-time novelist (but award-winning short-story writer) Madhulika Liddle has invented a new kind of character for Indian historical fiction — the amateur detective. Muzaffar follows in an old tradition, as Liddle reveals when she describes her reading tastes. He is a maverick in Shahjahan’s capital: an aristocrat with friends in low places. When one lowly friend is wrongly accused of the murder of a wealthy tax inspector in the Lal Qila, Muzaffar swings into action and puts himself in harm’s way…” Read more
Rahul Jayaram, Open:
“…Readers, watch your footstep. In the intriguing confines of medieval Delhi, there’s blood and gore afoot. There’s conspiracy in the air so thick it can be cut with a knife. The blood-stained body of one Mirza Murad Begh has been fished out and a bechara low-life has been accused of murder.” Read more
Avtar Singh, Time Out Delhi:
“…Historical mysteries are a huge genre abroad. Did you see an opportunity here? Muzaffar Jang (the detective protagonist) is someone we’d all like to see again…
Yes, Muzaffar was created because I saw that historical detectives were a dime a dozen abroad: there are Irish and Russian nuns, Roman and Egyptian investigators, a medieval Chinese magistrate, a Tudor lawyer, a Turkish eunuch, even a Welsh monk out there – but no Indians (or none that I’d come across). I thought it was about time someone used the richness of the Mughal court as a backdrop for a crime novel. And yes, there are more Muzaffar Jang works in the pipeline: short stories as well as novels…” Read more
The Englishman’s Cameo is available at all leading bookstores in India, including chains such as Landmark, Odyssey, Oxfordbookstore and Om Bookshop. Or, buy it online at:
And do visit the Facebook fan page on which I upload new links to reviews, features and interviews about The Englishman’s Cameo.