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Commander Joe Sandilands of the Metropolitan Police is happy to be headed home from a six month stint in 1920's India helping the Bengal Police with modern detection methods. But just as he's about to leave the acting governor prevails upon him to investigate the death of an officer's wife, that his niece, Nancy Drummond, thinks is suspicious. Indeed, not only does it turn out to be a case of murder, but one in a series that has claimed four other British officers' wives over a period of years, but all in March and all in a manner about which the woman involved had a phobia. And each march their graves are found to have been decorated with rare Kashmiri roses. Sandilands proceeds to investigate these mysterious doings with the help of Drummond, who serves as a love interest though married to the local Collector, and Naurung Singh, a Sikh policeman.

I'm a sucker for both a tale of India and a good police procedural, so take this with a grain of salt, but it's an especially promising debut. The atmosphere and mystery are competently handled, but, even better, all three main characters are immensely likable, though their rather modern attitudes about race, gender, and the propriety of extramarital sex strain credulity. Ms Cleverly will have to perform some legerdemain to keep them together in future adventures, but she ought to trry in particular to keep Singh in the picture, even if it means shifting the focus of the series to him. At any rate, we eagerly anticipate her subsequent efforts.


Grade: (A-)


See also:

Barbara Cleverly Links:

    -AWARD: Barbara Cleverly - ‘The Damascened Blade’ (CWA ELLIS PETERS HISTORICAL DAGGER)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview with Barbara Cleverly (Macavity's, June 2005)
    -REVIEW: of The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Last Kashmiri Rose (Jennifer Monahan Winberry, Mystery Reader)
    -REVIEW: of The Last Kashmiri Rose (Caroline Cummins, January) -REVIEW: of Ragtime in Simla by Barbara Cleverly (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Palace Tiger by Barbara Cleverly (Macavity's)
    -REVIEW: of THE DAMASCENED BLADE by Barbara Cleverly (John Escott, Shots)
    -REVIEW: of The Damascened Blade (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Damascened Blade (Sue Arnold, The Guardian)

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