Midwest Book Review
Bollywood P.I.: California Dreaming
$16.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Mystery readers who look for stories that embrace mysteries, misfits, and Indian-American culture will find Bollywood P.I.: California Dreaming an enlightening, fun foray into a health clinic worker's life.
Jita Patel is a clinic worker by day, a potential bride that her mother works to make a suitable match for, and a wanna-be P.I. whose first case drops into her lap with a cousin's disappearance, landing her a missing persons case replete with emotional baggage and close connections.
As she is joined by a cast of odd fellow misfits who have reason to pursue the truth themselves, Jita finds herself involved in much more than a missing relative as she unearths a strange crime operation that undercuts the peace and purposes of a California lifestyle.
Jita is not your usual woman looking for love in right and wrong places. She's a smart, proactive, determined personality who seeks the truth—even if it is disguised under layers of adversity and criminal activity; and even if it threatens her own concepts of the future.
Solid action tempered by psychological depth and a fun, sassy nature that swings full circle to embrace readers and perps alike make Bollywood P.I.: California Dreaming a compelling story, but what really stands out is the blend of humor, inspiration, and explorations of Indian culture. These elements are thoroughly steeped in and reflected by a heroine so absorbing that even readers with little prior knowledge of Indian culture will be motivated to learn more.
Themes of racism, social expectation both in her family and the wider community at large, and dreams tempered by danger emerge, while the action-packed story lures from its opening lines: "I leapt backwards and fell to the ground, rolling down Vinod’s driveway. The car backed into the road and headed towards me with a screech, the sun flashing ominously off the windshield."
Priya Khajuria juggles all these seemingly-disparate themes with an attention to detail and fun that creates a compelling story as Jita confronts not just danger, but romance, presenting unusual reactions to both.
Bollywood P.I.: California Dreaming's spicy, proactive female character is thoroughly engaging and likeable.
Libraries looking for P.I. stories that stand out from the crowd with their vivid characters, action-packed scenes, and juxtaposition of adventure and cultural revelations will find Bollywood P.I.: California Dreaming outstanding, as will the book clubs that choose it over others as they discuss Indian culture, women's choices, and mystery and romance problem-solving.
D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review