I cracked open PIRATE VISHNU immediately upon finishing the last page of ARTIFACT. I simply could not get enough Jaya Jones. The follow-up novel does not disappoint. This time, the mystery reaches back to Jaya’s own ancestors, some of whom left India for America in 1906 (Anand dying a hero in San Francisco during the Great Earthquake). These men loom large in her family lore: “My great-grandfather Vishwan and his brother Anand were the only two members of my family my mother had ever talked about.” When a retired lawyer challenges all her assumptions with a treasure map he insists led to Anand’s less-than-heroic death, Jaya investigates. Her family had donated the letters from Anand to Vishwan to the University of Kerala, and since Steven Healy insists they are key to decoding the treasure map, Jaya seeks them out, determined to find the truth.
Lane, the sort-of-love-interest from ARTIFACT appears in this novel, acting very oddly. Obviously there’s something going on with him that Jaya will need to uncover. And best friend Sanjay is along for the ride, being more in tune with Indian culture than Jaya, “the worst Indian ever.” Sanjay’s perfectly obvious feelings for Jaya become evident even to oblivious Jaya, throwing another twist into the story. This time, librarian friend Tamarind is also there to help Jaya pull together the threads of history and shifty translator Naveen seems a bit too interested in the treasure map. All her research leads to the question: Was beloved Great-Uncle Anand the man known as Pirate Vishnu, who terrorized the West Coast and stole a priceless artifact called The Heart of India? And who can Jaya really trust?
The discussion of Indian emigration to the West Coast is fascinating, but not pedantic. I know very little about Indian history and culture, so I enjoyed the background. Pandian also draws San Francisco around the time of the Great Earthquake very well in flashbacks of Anand’s life. The past and present come together as Jaya races with unknown foes to uncover the secret of the treasure. The adventure is great fun.
Note: I review the first in the series, ARTIFACT, here: https://noranydroptoread.com/2014/01/10/artifact-by-gigi-pandian/
Source disclosure: I received an e-galley of this title courtesy of the publisher.