Pirate Vishnu by Gigi Pandian
The Second Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery
Pirate Vishnu is the best of both worlds: a unique modern mystery intimately tied to historic lore. Pirate Vishnu is an adventure mystery puzzle wrapped in history. Jaya Jones is once again thrust in the middle of intrigue when a man challenges her family history stating that her great granduncle Anand did not die heroically saving a friend in the San Fransisco earthquake of 1906. Instead, he lived only to steal treasure from the man's family. Given a treasure map written by Anand, Jaya searches through San Franciscan, Indian, and her own family history to find the truth. We also get to read the story of Anand as the events really happened as the author intersperses chapters of the modern day mystery with the tale from the past.
This book grabbed me from the start and never let me go. The alternating stories of past and present was a brilliant move by Gigi Pandian letting readers experience Anand's adventurous life in two ways; through his truth as it happened and how family lore and history remembered it. Giving us his truth gave Jaya's discoveries even more impact.
As for the characters...what a fantastic group! Jaya Jones is a wonderful character even if she is "the worst Indian ever". Jaya is a small, but formidable woman; an intelligent historian looking for tenure who happens to get involved in some amazing adventures. We have her best friend Sanjay, the Hindu Houdini, always there to help, perhaps more than Jaya realizes. The mysterious Lane, a romantic enigma who comes and goes like the San Fransisco fog. In Pirate Vishnu we also learn more about Nadia, Jaya's Russian landlady, and Tamarind, librarian extraordinaire (Shut. Up.). There's also the slimy Naveen, vying for tenure with Jaya and willing to go to great lengths to get it. We also meet the cast from the past-Anand and his friends, Li and Samuel. These characters are just as vibrant as the people from the present, their story just as vital.
Pirate Vishnu delivers everything you want in a mystery, interesting, believable characters you care about, locations that come alive and make you want to explore them yourself, a dash of romance, history that comes to life, and a challenging puzzle to solve.