Sat 12 February 2011, The Times

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall

By Marcel Berlins
Vish Puri — “Most Private Investigator”, according to his card — is large, constantly hungry, a perpetual victim of Delhi’s traffic congestion, and a wonderfully engaging PI. The title of Tarquin Hall’s funny, entertaining novel refers to a group of men who believe that laughter is the best therapy for all ills. One of its members, Dr Jha, is a controversial sceptic dedicated to exposing the activities of fraudulent gurus who exploit people’s superstitions by purporting to perform miracles. During a meeting of the group a huge, fearsome apparition of the goddess Kali suddenly emerges. When she disappears and the smoke clears, Dr Jha lies dead. But if it’s murder, how was the convincing image of the deity, which masked the crime, achieved? Vish Puri investigates among magicians and dodgy spiritual leaders. The plot is exaggerated, but the characters — including members of Puri’s complicated family — are splendid, and it’s a joy to read.
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It was published by The Times, which adheres to the PCC Code

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