Author: Harriet Steel
Category: Historical Fiction, Cozy Murder Mystery, Book Review
Inspector de Silva’s peaceful evening is disrupted when he is called up to the Royal Nuala Golf Club where a wealthy member has been found brutally murdered.
Is this a bungled robbery, a private feud, or does the killer have another motive that will cause them to strike again?
Inspector Shanti de Silva and his wife Jane, were looking forward to an evening at the cinema but an unexpected telephone call from Doctor Hebden meant they had to cancel their plans.
There had been a murder at the Royal Nuala Golf Club and de Silva’s presence is required immediately. The body of wealthy local business man and tea plantation owner, Bernard Harvey, had been discovered hidden in the rough by Doctor Hebden’s dog. His caddy was nowhere to be found.
The murder turns out to be a complicated case for de Silva, not least because he has to tread carefully in his dealings with the advantaged British. There seems to be no obvious motive and no possessions were taken but where was the caddy? De Silva’s superior, Archie Clutterbuck was entertaining important visitors and didn’t want a scandal. Luckily, de Silva had the help of Charlie Frobisher, a personable junior member of the Colonial staff. And as always, de Silva’s wife Jane is his sounding board, offering her own insightful suggestions.
I had to smile when Charlie Frobisher described the murder as ‘a nasty spot of bother’ and thought it seemed realistically typical of an understatement by an upper class Englishman of the time.
The remark demonstrated a notable British quality, thought de Silva: their unerring ability to minimise drama, even when, in most people’s view, the occasion would justifiably merit it.
I always enjoy catching up with Shanti and Jane de Silva, and Harriet Steel brings 1930’s Ceylon and its inhabitants to vibrant life, with descriptions of places, food and their home life.
It was interesting to note in this book that a little more attention was given to the prejudice issue facing the Sinhalese people as a direct result of British dominance. Additions such as this, plus the local customs and the fact the British make investigating that much more difficult, give more authenticity to the story.
He was aware that the club’s hallowed portals didn’t welcome locals like himself; the membership was exclusively British. Deep down, de Silva had to admit that even though he had no desire to play golf, he wasn’t entirely immune to feelings of resentment at being shunned in his own country.