I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
(I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
I've pre-ordered this book in paperback form, but after reading Artifact I was dead eager to read the next book in the series, so I quickly requested the ARC from NetGalley and Henery Press was nice enough to approve me.
The good news is that it's an entertaining, fun read full of adventuring from start to finish. I really liked it and I'm already anticipating a third Jaya Jones mystery. The not-so-good news is that it isn't as good as the first book. At least it wasn't for me. And it really could be just my personal tastes getting in the way. Allow me to elucidate.
I quite like Jaya Jones; she is absolutely a Main Character I can get behind. She's smart (PhD), she's independent, she's resourceful. In spite of her protestations to the contrary she's a little bit like another Jones - Indiana - only an historian instead of an archeologist.
Her father is American and her mother was Indian (the India Indian, not the Native American kind). Indian culture plays a very large part in the story line and Jaya’s historical research centres on the British East India Company. The author herself comes from a strong Indian-culture background, so she’s writing what she knows. But here I have to confess: I don't find Indian to be in my top 5 cultures/histories of interest. I don't find it dull or disinteresting, but I am not fascinated enough to immerse myself in it. The first book, Artifact, while about an Indian treasure, actually took place in Scotland and also involved Scottish history and fae mythology; I found all of it combined to be really fascinating. The plot for Pirate Vishnu was 100% all Indian; Jaya is researching a great grand-uncle whose reputation has just come under fire. It’s all really well written and if Indian culture/history makes your top 5 list (assuming you have a list), you’ll absolutely love it. There are scenes that take place in India that are so vivid, I felt like I should shower off the dust from the streets when I finished reading them.
My second confession: I’m not a huge fan of alternating POV/time lines. If forced to explain why, I’d have to say, after about 15 seconds of deep deliberation, that in most, the reader is taken back in time far enough that you know how it’s all going to end: someone is going to die, and the alternate POV/story-line-in-the-past is usually about how that someone dies. So I dread reading them, because I don’t want to become attached to a character whose time is neigh. I dread it even when it's written as well as it is here - especially when it’s done as well as it is in Pirate Vishnu. I liked her uncle Anand and his friends, and would have preferred not to bear witness to their story, even though it’s used extremely effectively in tandem with Jaya’s modern day search.
Last, but definitely not least - Ms. Pandian has set the stage for a possible love triangle. Now, the first two things I mentioned above are, on the whole, rather trivial. Together they really only brought my appreciation for this book down 1/2 a star. But this one is a killer. Just the possibility of a love triangle and there goes a full star. I hate them. See, in Artifact, Ms. Pandian got me thoroughly hooked on Lane; he’s cool, mysterious, handsome; he’s well educated, he’s a reformed jewel thief! He’s dangerous without being a thug. Hell, I want to date him!
But now she’s gone and threatened to bring Jaya’s best friend Sanjay onto the scene as a romantic rival. No. Please no. Sanjay makes a great best friend; he’s a magician, so he’s resourceful in his way but well, he just makes a better sidekick/partner in crime than a love interest. He does nothing for me romance wise. Sorry, I just can’t get behind it.
So, these are the things that keep me from liking Pirate Vishnu as well as I liked Artifact. If none of these things, or few of these things are points you’d take exception to, you’ll love this book. It’s excellently written, and it’s fast paced with lots of action. The murder plot itself (oh yeah! there’s a murder!) was really setup well. The suspects were many, the clues were varied and the murderer ultimately comes a bit out of left field. I know some people don’t like that, but I find it refreshing - I never saw the ending coming.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a treasure hunt-type mystery (there's even a treasure map!) without reservation. Although I’d give fair warning about the love triangle setup.