Author: Harriet Steel
Published: July 2018 by Stane Street Press
Category: Historical Fiction, Cosy Mystery, Murder, Crime, Book Review
In this fourth instalment of the Inspector de Silva mysteries, it is monsoon season in the Hill Country. One stormy night, a ghostly encounter on a lonely road leads de Silva into a case of murder, and a mystery that stretches back to Ceylon’s distant past. To uncover the truth, he will have to face death and his inner demons.
Inspector Shanti de Silva is already regretting the whim that made him arrange a visit to see his colleague Inspector Singh in Hatton during the monsoon season.
A fallen tree had blocked the road since he passed through earlier on, which necessitated de Silva taking the old road back to Nuala. Before he’d gone very far his beloved Morris gave up the ghost and coasted to a stop. De Silva had two choices—walk into town or stay with the car in the jungle. He decided on the first option. After a little while he heard something that stopped him in his tracks.
It came again, fading against the howl of the wind. He squared his shoulders. Perhaps he was imagining things and it was just the wind. Briskly he stepped out once more.
Then his heart started to pound. A pinpoint of white light was emerging from the darkness, dipping and swaying, emitting an inhuman wail that froze his blood.
After his escapade in the jungle de Silva awakened the next morning feeling distinctly under the weather. Jane, his wife, tried to persuade him to take the day off but he didn’t want to miss his regular appointment with Archie Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent in Nuala and de Silva’s superior. On de Silva’s return to the police station there’s a report of a missing man from one of the villages and Sergeant Prasanna asks permission to search the area with Constable Nadar. Recalling the noises he heard the previous night, de Silva joins the search. They find more than they bargained for.
The investigation gains momentum, despite the monsoon making everything much more difficult. Jane and Clutterbuck, who is home alone while his wife is cruising, join in the search for artefacts in the jungle, bringing about what turns out to be a hazardous train journey to Colombo for De Silva and Jane.
It was lovely to be able to have a return visit to colonial 1930s Ceylon and catch up with the colourful, engaging and well-rounded characters peopling this series. It’s written well, incorporating the complexities of the social structure, the local dishes and vividly descriptive prose together with quite a fast moving and well thought through plot. De Silva and Jane moved from Colombo to Nuala for a slower, less fraught lifestyle but in this episode de Silva finds himself in some desperate situations, not helped by the dreadful weather conditions. I think he, and Jane, deserve the holiday they discussed.
I chose to read and review Fatal Finds in Nuala for Rosie’s Book Review Team based on a digital copy supplied by the author.
About the Author
Harriet Steel grew up in London and Wiltshire but now lives in Surrey. Married with two daughters, she has worked in fields from law to libraries. Her interests are travel, history and art, all of which have inspired the four historical novels she wrote before turning to crime with The Inspector de Silva Mysteries. She reads widely, but in the mystery genre is particularly fond of vintage mysteries. She would love to go back in time for a day and have lunch with Hercule Poirot, tea with Miss Marple, and dinner at the Ritz with Lord Peter Wimsey.