Excerpt from The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing

From the Files of Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator

By Tarquin Hall

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2010,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2011,
    320 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


An announcement sounded over the PA system, first in Hindi and then in English. “Namashkar,” said a pleasant singsong voice. “Guests are kindly requested not to do urination in water. WC facilities are provided in rear. Your kind cooperation is appreciated.”

Another five minutes passed. Puri diligently avoided eye contact with his client in case the middleman was close by. A balloon wallah, who had been doing brisk business in front of the Wave Pool, came and stood a few feet to the left of Rathinasabapathy. Then a short, chunky man with a thick neck and dyed black hair approached the nuclear physicist. His back was turned to the dhaba so that the detective was unable to see his face. But beyond the obvious—that the man was in his early to mid-fifties, married, owned a dog and had reached the rendezvous within the past few minutes—Puri was able to deduce that he was having an affair (there was a clear impression of an unwrapped condom in his back pocket) and had grown up in a rural area where the drinking water was contaminated by arsenic (his hands were covered in black blotches).

Puri pressed the mini receiver he was wearing deeper into his ear. It was tuned to the listening device housed in a flag of India pinned to his client’s shirt pocket.

“Mr. Rathinasabapathy, is it?” the detective heard the middleman ask over the din of the children. His voice suggested a confident smugness.

“Yeah, that’s right,” answered the nuclear physicist, sounding apprehensive. “Who are you?”

“We spoke earlier on phone.”

“You said to be here at eight o’clock. I’ve been waiting nearly half an hour.”

“Eight o’clock Indian time, scientist sahib. You know what is Indian time? Always later than you would expect.” The middleman let out a little chuckle. “By that account I’m extremely punctual. But enough of that, haa? What is that you’re carrying? Something for me I hope?”

“Look, I’m not handing over any money until I know exactly whom I’m dealing with,” insisted Rathinasabapathy, repeating the words Puri had coached him to say.

The middleman gave a petulant shake of the head and turned his back on the balloon wallah.

“Don’t be so concerned with my identity. Important thing is, I’m a man who gets things done,” he said.

“You must have a name. What am I supposed to call you?”

“Some people know me as Mr. Ten Percent.”

“That’s very amusing,” said Rathinasabapathy drily.

“So glad you think so, scientist sahib. But I’m not a joker to do rib tickling. So let’s do business, haa? You’ve got the full amount exactly and precisely?”

“Yes, I’ve brought your two lakh rupees,” said Rathina-sabapathy, returning to the dialogue Puri had scripted for him. “But how do I know you’ll keep up your end of the bargain? How do I know you won’t just take the cash and my kids still won’t—” “Listen, Textbook!” interjected Mr. Ten Percent. “In India deal is deal. This is not America with your Enron. Everything’s arranged. Now, you’re going to give over the cash or what?”

Rathinasabapathy hesitated for a moment and then handed over the duffel bag. “It’s all in there. Two— hundred—thousand—rupees,” he said, raising his voice and enunciating each word clearly.

The middleman took hold of the bag and held it by the straps in his right hand, gauging its weight.

“Very good,” he said, apparently satisfied.

“you’re not going to count it?”

“Here? In such a public place?” He chuckled. “Someone seeing so much of cash might get a wrong idea. Who knows? They might rob me. I tell you there’s dacoity all about these days. One more piece advice to you, scientist sahib: keep hold of your wallet, ha? The other day, only, a thief grabbed my portable straight out my hand. Can you believe? Right there on the street in daylight hours. Luckily for me I got it back one hour later. The thief himself returned it. That is after discovering to whom it belonged.

Excerpted from The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall. Copyright © 2010 by Tarquin Hall. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Vish Puri's Favorite Dishes

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  167The City:
    Dean Koontz
  2.  19The Arsonist:
    Sue Miller

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.