- Author: Harriet Steel
- Published: August 2016 by Stane Street Press
- Category: Mystery, Historical
When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife Jane to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails.
The story is set in 1930’s Ceylon when it was still a British colony. Inspector Shanti de Silva has left the big, bustling city of Colombo behind with no regrets. He and his English wife, Jane, an ex governess, have settled in the much more peaceful town of Nuala where de Silva runs the local police station with the aid of Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar.
De Silva is called to a meeting with Archie Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent, at his home and asked to investigate a plantation owner who allegedly flogged one of his workers. Charles Renshaw, the plantation owner, is opinionated and unpopular, with a younger, vulnerable wife and stepson. The investigation progresses at a steady pace and as the case evolves there’s a death which turns out to be suspicious. De Silva refuses to be less than efficient regardless of Clutterbuck wanting the case solved with the minimum of fuss. Perhaps, after all, life isn’t going to be as restful as De Silva hoped.
The author’s representation of Ceylon and evocative descriptions conjure up immediate images; the weather, food, scenery and social climate are evident. I can just see de Silva’s sitting in splendour in his pride and joy, the Morris Cowley 2-seater Tourer.
Rickshaws darted between bullock carts laden with sacks of rice; piles of bananas and coconuts; and mounds of other fruits and vegetables. Stalls offering cooked food lined the dusty streets and passers-by stopped to purchase bowls of curry and rice or paper cornets of sticky sweetmeats.
An enjoyable, well written cozy mystery with a cast of well defined characters. Shanti de Silva is an engaging and wonderfully drawn protagonist. A man of principle, practical and not averse to following his own instincts if the situation warrants. The wonderful setting sets the story apart and allows a look back at a fascinating way of life and culture. I love the relationship between De Silva and Jane and look forward to the next book.
Reviewed for Rosie Amber’s book review team and based on a digital copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.
About Harriet Steel
Harriet Steel writes historical novels, including a novelised biography of Lola Montez, the nineteenth century’s most notorious adventuress, who was in her day the second most famous woman in the world after Queen Victoria. She has also published a collection of short stories that contains several prize winners. All proceeds go to WaterAid. Her latest project is a murder mystery series set in Ceylon in the 1930s featuring Inspector Shanti de Silva.
She was educated in the New Forest and London and subsequently graduated from Cambridge University with a BA in Law. She practised for many years as a solicitor before becoming a writer. She lives in Surrey and when she is not writing loves to visit art galleries and read about history, activities that inspire her writing. She is also a keen traveller and an enthusiastic gardener.
She loves to hear from readers so do visit her blog where you’ll find interviews with other authors, articles on a variety of topics and more information about her writing. If you would like advance notice of new releases, offers and promotions, there’s a Follow by Email button.