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There are one million new books published each year. With so many books and so little time, where do you begin to find your next must-read? There’s the New York Times Bestseller list, the Goodreads app, the Cape Library’s Staff picks shelf and now Martin’s Must-Reads.Every Wednesday at 6:42 and 8:42 a.m., and Sunday at 8:18 a.m., Betty Martin recommends a must read based on her own personal biases for historical fiction, quirky characters and overall well-turned phrases. Her list includes WWII novels, biographies of trailblazers, novels with truly unique individuals and lots more. Reading close to 100 titles a year, Betty has plenty of titles to share.Local support for "Martin's Must Reads" comes from the Cape Girardeau Public Library and the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library.

Martin's Must Reads: 'The Secret Keeper of Jaipur'

“Prologue. Malik. May 1969. Jaipur. It’s opening night of the Royal Jewel Cinema, which shines as brilliantly as a gemstone. Inside the theater: every one of the eleven hundred mohair seats is occupied. Still more people stand, lining the walls of the theater for the premiere. This is Ravi Singh’s big moment....I follow the rest of the group inside the lobby. Before we make it through the doors, we hear a yawning creak, then a complaining groan, and then suddenly the roar of a thousand pounds of cement, brick, rebar and drywall crashing down.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and those are some lines from the Prologue of Alka Joshi’s novel The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, the sequel to The Henna Artist. Malik is twenty and a former ward of Lakshmi, the henna artist. He is temporarily in Jaipur as an apprentice to the construction firm that built the Royal Jewel Cinema. Lakshmi now lives in Shimla where she is director of a healing garden and married to the physician for the hospital that owns the garden.

While Malik is in Jaipur, Lakshmi is watching over Malik’s sweetheart Nimmi and her two young children. Nimmi is a twenty-three year old tribal woman of the Himalayan hills who moved to Shimla to sell flowers as a means of providing for her children. Malik notices discrepancies in the quality of building materials and is driven to discover what caused the building collapse.

Meanwhile back in Shimla, Lakshmi helps Nimmi with her murdered brother’s sheep that were being used to smuggle gold into the country. This book is great experienced as an audiobook, as I did.

If you’re looking for a story that will immerse you in Indian culture with drama and a mystery to solve, then you must read The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi.

Betty Martin was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a Lutheran pastor and his organist wife. Betty’s love of books was inspired by her father who read to all four children each night.
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  • This is a fascinating window into life in India in the 1950’s when the caste system still affected Indian’s lives. As the book jacket says the Henna Artist is “Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern.”