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Sujata Massey’s literary belt is studded with awards. In 2019, The Widows of Malabar Hill, her first Perveen Mistry novel, won the Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was optioned for development as a TV series. Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany, immigrated with her family to the U.S., then later moved to Japan with her husband. Her nuanced perspective of the world—and a significant amount of cultural and historical research—shine through her prose.

Set in the 1920s, The Widows of Malabar Hill, published in 2018, follows Perveen, Bombay’s first female lawyer (partially inspired by the real historical figure Cornelia Sorabji). Perveen is Parsi, a Zoroastrian originally from Persia, and her cases tend to center women in need. Her own background makes her particularly empathetic to her clients: her abusive marriage ended in violent tragedy, and as a Parsi woman, she cannot remarry. She takes up the case of three Muslim widows living in full purdah (secluded in the women’s quarters), suspicious of the will their husband left behind that they supposedly signed. And Perveen’s hunch was right: as she starts investigating, a murder unfolds, greatly raising the stakes of the job she must undertake. —Laura Zornosa

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