Simla 1922, and the summer capital of the British Raj is fizzing with the energy of the Jazz Age. Simla is where detective Joe Sandilands is heading as the guest of Sir George Jardine, the Governor of Bengal.
But when Joe’s travelling companion, a Russian opera singer, is shot dead at his side in the governor’s car, he finds himself plunged into a murder investigation. Confronted by the mystery of an identical unsolved killing a year before, Joe realizes that Sir George’s hospitality comes at a high price.
©2002 Barbara Cleverly (P)2003 Soundings
My taste in books seems to run along a space-crime continuum
Faulty bridge infrastructure derails a train travelling from Paris to Marseilles in 1919. The resulting 300-foot plunge into a rock-strewn ravine leaves only two survivors--or possibly there was a third--and maybe even a fourth? Three years later, Scotland Yard's Joe Sandilands arrives in Simla, India, high in the Himalaya and the summer capital of the British Raj, to investigate the apparent assassination of a prominent English trading executive. On the steep final approach to Simla--at the exact spot of the first murder--Joe's traveling companion is identically shot and killed. We are now at the end of Chapter 2. It is obvious early on that we are seeing the fruits of a case of identity theft. But the repercussions of the earlier events are many, varied, and surprising, and play out in an exotic locale and with a cast of characters that adds panache. Terry Wale's narration, in the rather flat intonations of a British military officer, becomes entirely part of the action and is totally believable. Highly recommended for those who like their mysteries with color, character, and complexity.
This enjoyable mystery set in 1920's British India has all the elements of a good classic mystery plus lots of atmosphere. The intricate plot has some clever turns and twists. If you're fresh out of books by Dorothy Sayers, Patricia Wentworth, Agatha Christie, and Ngaio Marsh, Cleverly is a good choice--you don't get the wit and depth of character perception of a Marsh or a Sayers, but you do get a thoroughly entertaining and engaging story. Narrator is good; excellent characterizations, eloquent delivery.
The story was interesting and complex enough to hold my attention even through the sometimes clumsy or lengthy descriptions of the surroundings. I was at first put off by the archaic narrator and although I soon became accustomed to it, I can't help help but think the story would have been improved by a different voice.
I have to admire the way the author keeps the reader guessing. You think you have it figured out and then, bang, you had it wrong. Populated by appealing characters, it is often hard to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. But that's the fun of it all. The narrator does an excellent job of conveying a sense of British life and behavior in early 20th century India. The title doesn't have much to do with the actual story but I love the cover.
twisty plot with unexpected diversions
Joe and Alice in the garden
nice solid no-frills reading.
Intrigue and Murder
Yes I found it interesting enought to recommend. The plot had lots of twists to it. Just when you thought you knew who did what - something else comes out and the plot veers off in another dirction. The central plots deal with the impersonation of an heiress by a prostitute (poule de Luxe). And for me the disappointing part of the story was that the prostitute got away with the crime and all the loot she had stolen. I felt she should have been caught and punished.
I guess my favorite character was Maizie the Fortune Teller. She was the most honest in s bunch of crooks and indulged in less double dealing than the rest.
I found Terry Wale's narration a little "breathy" and that was annoying.
I don't like ending where the cirminals get away scot free and this was what happened in this book.
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