Moghul Buffet

( 2 )


Micky Malone lives in Bethesda, dines at Taco Bell, takes a vacation only when he has to, and feels happiest when connected to the many gigabytes of his computer. When an unfortunate chain of events forces him to go on a business trip to Peshawar, an "unpleasant border town in the most troubled part of the troubled country of Pakistan," it doesn't take long for his worst fears about foreign destinations to come true. The Inter-Continental Hotel is comfortable enough, its Moghul Buffet lavish, but Malone cannot ...
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Micky Malone lives in Bethesda, dines at Taco Bell, takes a vacation only when he has to, and feels happiest when connected to the many gigabytes of his computer. When an unfortunate chain of events forces him to go on a business trip to Peshawar, an "unpleasant border town in the most troubled part of the troubled country of Pakistan," it doesn't take long for his worst fears about foreign destinations to come true. The Inter-Continental Hotel is comfortable enough, its Moghul Buffet lavish, but Malone cannot shake his growing fear that something really bad is about to happen to him. When it does, a mysterious message smeared in blood on the hotel's ice machine will be the only clue eager young Detective Iqbal has to go by, when he is dispatched from the capital to find out who killed the American.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Both a wickedly funny cross-cultural comedy of errors and an edgy murder mystery, Benard's lively debut begins with the disappearance of timid, pudgy U.S. businessman Micky Malone in Peshawar, an ultraconservative, crime-ridden Pakistani backwater on the Afghan border. As other corpses pile up (victims include a Pakistani banker, a closeted gay Indian movie star and an anti-American Islamic fundamentalist publisher), dogged but inept Detective Iqbal stumbles from suspect to suspect. Bernard choreographs a series of comic misunderstandings (between East and West, men and women), training withering irony on a range of characters: Mara Blake, an earnest American refugee-camp worker reeling from her failed marriage to a wealthy Pakistani; the Maulana, a self-righteous Islamic fundamentalist televangelist; Fatima, his young housemaid and pregnant sex-slave; and the Maulana's nephew and chauffeur, Mushahed, a leftist economics student in love with Fatima. Even if the comedy occasionally sputters with indignation, Benard nimbly swings from farce to social satire, describing with devastating wit and fiery feminist passion Pakistani sexism, censorship, corruption and human rights abuses. (May)
Library Journal
The American director of an Austrian research institute and author of several nonfiction works (e.g., "The Government of God": Iran's Islamic Republic, LJ 6/1/84), Benard debuts with a surprisingly successful black comedy/mystery reminiscent in its droll narrative style of the works of Australian author Peter Carey. The omniscient narrator weaves together seemingly disparate plotlines featuring rabid Islamic religious leaders, corrupt Pakistanis and Afghanis, nave American businessmen, feminists from all cultures and walks of life, journalists and policemen, Afghan refugees, the Taliban, and sexually exploited village girls, creating a compelling whodunit that races along to a bloody climax in the inhospitable desert of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province. Micky Malone, a quiet American like so many others trying to follow the rules while doing business in Asia, seems to have been murdered in his Peshawar hotel room, but his body is missing. As more killings occur and notes left at the scene point to a serial killerclothed in a chaddri, the voluminous woman's coverall de rigueur in the provincetensions mount inexorably. Is the killer working in disguise, or could it behorrors!that a lowly woman is offing these creeps? Clever, witty, and politically and culturally on the mark, this book is recommended for all collections.Jo Manning, formerly with General Books Lib., Reader's Digest
Marilyn Stasio
...a venomously funny diatribe on the miserable conditions of life for Muslim women in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. -- Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
[An] exotic and mordantly amusing mystery.
Kirkus Reviews
Benard's fiction debut starts out as a crackling mystery set on the Pakistani frontier, but the author's deft blend of humor and suspense lapses into a confusing tangle of subplots. Micky Malone, salesman for a prefab-housing company, gets suckered into a weeklong journey to Peshawar, Pakistan, to close a major deal. The Hotel Khyber Inter-Continental feels frighteningly foreign to novelty-averse Micky, and as his business contact starts making sinister allusions to smuggling, Micky's only comfort lies in his discovery that a female college classmate is living in the area. Fast forward, then, a couple of days, when Iqbal, a big-city detective, is dispatched to Peshawar to investigate Micky's sudden disappearance. Iqbal and Lilly, a journalist, initially focus on Mara Blake, Mickey's college friend, with whom he'd indeed had a brief fling before falling out of sight. But then other bodies start to turn up, suggesting a broader conspiracy. A dizzying cast is introduced before Lilly recognizes the cryptic scrawlings left on the crime scenes as lyrics from a feminist song. Is one of the womenþmaybe Fatima, a village girl forced into prostitutionþthe killer? As it turns out, though, Micky isn't dead at all. Ruffled by an unsolicited visit from Fatima, who was impersonating a belly-dancer, he panicked and, with Mara's help, went into hiding in a shed at a remote refugee camp. In a burst of idealistic frenzy born out of crushing boredom, he inspires a pack of Taliban warriors to build a latrine for the womenþand, in the meantime, murky explanations of the various killings may or may not hold up under scrutiny, while the author's attempts to weave character sketches into acomplex portrait of an Islamic border town also prove only half-successful. The problem: plot and pacing. In her best moments, though, Benard hits a sure tone of fond satire. Still, overall, an overstuffed grab-bag of suspects, victims, and bystanders that invites indifference.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569471791
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Series: SoHo Crime Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.07 (w) x 7.48 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2002

    Ascerbically funny adventure

    The action moves along at a fast clip, as colorful character after colorful character is added to the mix. You can read it for the social commentary, or you can read it for fun. Or you can read it twice, like I did!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2001

    Scandalously Entertaining

    Moghul Buffet is like a decked-out parade with its perfect combination of sights, sounds, and touches which will leave you thrilled by its hilarity that stems from a great many ancient traditions and a couple too many overzealous assumptions. Meet Micky Malone--overweight, pale, and kind of a wimp, but he's a good wimp, who goes to Peshawar, the backland of Pakistan's North-West-Frontier-Province to forge a deal for West-Fab industries in Maryland. After a run-in with the formidable Walid Khan, the kind of mafia ringleader of Peshawar, Micky begins to fear for his life. When he disappears and a message smeared in blood is left on an ice machine, authorities suspect the worst: an international relations crisis. Thus our dashing hero from Islamabad Iqbal, is called onto the scene. Iqbal who has little patience for the backward chauvinism of Peshawar, and whose wife and her nosy journalist-friend, Lilly are ready for some frontier excitement. As bodies start turning up everywhere, it appears to be more than they have bargained for. Yet what do a Westerner, an Afghan attorney, a low-class banker, an Indian film star, a fundamentalist newspaper-publisher, and television broad-casting, soccer-hating Maulana have in common? Where do Mara Blake, a Western woman with a failed marriage to a Pakistani; Fatima, the lecherous Maulana's secret little sex-slave; Mushahed, Walid Khan's idealistic nephew, and Shabnam, a powerful Pakistani feminist fit in? What do you do when the victim's sister, Julia, also a journalist, comes traipsing onto the crime scene demanding answers? Why are the refugees along the Afghan border suddenly building a latrine for their chador-clad women? As all this comes marching through right in front of the cultured eyes of Iqbal, we are met with witty commentary by an undisclosed narrator, the private thoughts and blunders of each character, and a definition of what a 'Belly-Gram' is. Author Benard gives us her own cryptic message of real feminism, as well as a new understanding of life in the Wild, Wild West, or rather, North-West.

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