In the 1920s, a serial killer targets the wives of Britons attached to the military Bengal Greys near Calcutta. Disguised as accidents, the murders go undetected until the latest, the purported suicide of a young wife, finally attracts the attention of investigator Joseph Sandilands. Recognizing common threads in all five deaths, he dives into a thorough investigation that revisits all the crime scenes. A strongly evocative narrative, sensitive characterizations, artful dialog, and masterly plotting make for an excellent first historical, which won the Crime Writer Association's Debut Dagger competition. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In an impressive debut, British author Cleverly weaves an engrossing tale of serial murder and the impending decline of the British Empire into a well-written fair-play mystery set in 1920s India. Commander Joe Sandilands, a Scotland Yarder completing a stint with the Bengal Police, is on his way back home when the provincial governor asks him to look into the recent death-by-suicide of an army officers young wife. Nancy Drummond, a close friend of the dead woman, reveals that four other officers wives have also died"apparently by accident or misadventure"over a period of 12 years, all in the month of March. Sandilandss investigation reveals further disturbing similarities; the cause of death in each case was the victims greatest phobia, and an unknown person has marked the anniversaries of their passing by placing a Kashmiri rose on their graves. With Drummond as his assistant and love interest, the detective probes beneath the surface of a society attempting to replicate pre-WWI England in a very different milieu. The political tensions of the time are more than mere background dressing, while the clash of cultures is instrumental to the plot. The likable and plausible Sandilands and other characters, both British and Indian, come across as living, breathing people. The killers motivation proves to be more baffling than his identity, but the solution is satisfying, as is Sandilandss handling of the ethical issues that his uncovering of the truth has raised. Classic whodunit fans should look forward to Cleverlys future efforts. (Sept. 6) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"Has just about everything: a fresh, beautifully realized exotic setting; a strong, confident protagonist; a poignant love story; and an exquisitely complex plot."--"The Denver Post" "An engrossing tale of serial murder and the impending decline of the British Empire."--"Publishers Weekly" "Spellbinding."--"The New York Times Book Review"