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Review: The Englishman’s Cameo

books Updated: Nov 05, 2009 18:13 IST
Damini Purkayastha
Damini Purkayastha
Hindustan Times
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Title: The Englishman’s Cameo
Author: Madhulika Liddle
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: Rs 295

As Aurangzeb advances his troops against his father Shah Jahan, the kotwali of Dilli are embroiled in a murder mystery. Young Muzaffar Jang, in an attempt to save his friend from being executed, follows the trail of a dead merchant, a scheming eunuch, and “too many Englishmen”.

As Jang, the poetry-loving nephew of the Kotwal, investigates further, we meet Mehtab, the legendary courtesan (who is murdered soon after), her mysterious step-sister Gulnar and Akram, the affable nobleman who follows Jang around.

The mystery is intriguing, but it is Liddle’s historically accurate portrait of Shahjahanabad, complete with the moonlit Yamuna, the paandaans, the palanquins, the noblemen’s parties and bustling market places, that make the novel come alive. The plot will intrigue you and the narrative will enthrall you.