In her acclaimed mysteries set in the age of the British Raj, Barbara Cleverly brilliantly captures a fascinating collision of cultures against a backdrop of jasmine-scented nights and neatly trimmed English gardens. In her gripping new novel, the author of The Last Kashmiri Rose and Ragtime in Simla transports us to the remote and exotic setting of India’s North-West Frontier, where a group of travelers is swept into a spellbinding drama of kidnapping, vengeance, and murder.
Scotland Yard Detective Joe Sandilands has been given the unenviable mission of guarding a spirited young American woman with far more wealth than sense. Lily Coblenz, accompanied by a cunning businessman, a woman doctor, and two quarreling military strategists, expects the adventure of a lifetime when she arrives at a remote British outpost. But when the son of a Pathan tribal leader is discovered dead, Sandilands, a decorated war veteran, knows that his mission to protect Lily has suddenly taken a startling new turn that may bring them all to the brink of war.
Now, from the far reaches of an empire, Joe Sandilands must separate lies from truths, innocents from killers—and find the one person with a desperate motive for murder and the key to India’s destiny.
From Publishers Weekly
Devotees of classic Golden Age whodunits will delight in British author Cleverly's third Joe Sandilands mystery set in India in 1922; it evokes, and in some ways surpasses, the work of Agatha Christie. The resourceful and insightful Sandilands assumes a glorified babysitting assignment when a rich and attractive American heiress expresses a desire to tour India's dangerous northwest frontier with Afghanistan during a period of heightened political tension. The heiress and Sandilands end up at a frontier outpost with a motley collection of companions—a Pathan prince and his kinsman, a female doctor en route to serve the amir ruling Afghanistan, a sleazy entrepreneur, an RAF pilot hoping to gain support for an increased military aerial presence and a veteran civil servant advocating a British retreat. When the prince is found dead, evidence suggesting foul play is suppressed. Sandilands is forced to act on his suspicions when the victim's kinsman takes a hostage and imposes a one-week deadline for a solution to the crime. Cleverly does a masterful job of combining traditional puzzle elements, including false endings and subtle fair-play clues, with convincing period atmosphere and characters with more complexity and sophistication than Christie typically provided. This marvelous historical delivers on the promise of the author's first two mysteries—The Last Kashmiri Rose (2002) and Ragtime in Simla (2003)—and should add to her growing U.S. fan base.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Scotland Yard commander Joe Sandilands never seems to get a real vacation. His third attempt finds him again in India during the Raj, this time near the Afghan border in the northwest. While visiting an old army friend, James Lindsay, Sandilands receives orders to chaperone American heiress Lily Coblenz, who is in search of adventure and the "real" India. The situation at Gor Khatri, a frontier fort, is tense. The fragile peace with the local Pathan tribesmen is broken, a Pathan prince dies, and British hostages are taken. Sandilands and his crew have one week to identify, arrest, and execute the prince's killer and avoid a war. As she did in The Last Kashmiri Rose (2002) and Ragtime in Simla (2003), Cleverly uses her portrayal of life at the fort to capture the essence of the declining British Empire. She also introduces several strong feminist characters who prove that they are more than capable of surviving in the harsh frontier environment. This excellent historical mystery gains immediacy in light of recent events in the region. Barbara Bibel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved