- Book: Trouble in Nuala. The Inspector de Silva Mysteries #1
- Location: Sri Lanka
- Author: Harriet Steel
This novel is the #TFBookClub read for November and December 2017.
The first in what will undoubtedly prove to be a popular series.
Set in 1930s Ceylon (Sri Lanka as it is now), Inspector Shanti de Silva is living there, at Sunnybank, with his English wife, Jane and solving all kinds of murder mysteries.
In this first novel, it comes to his attention that Gooptu, a worker on the Renshaw plantation, has been physically disciplined, leaving him pretty severely wounded – possibly even dead, as he seems to have disappeared. Charles Renshaw, the owner, is generally deemed an unpleasant sort and de Silva needs to have a word with him about his unacceptable conduct.
When Renshaw himself is found dead, the immediate assumption is that he has had a heart attack, confirmed by his doctor. But Inspector de Silva has his suspicions that not all is as it seems. There are, afterall, plenty of potential perpetrators, including the hapless Gooptu.
The book has lyrical descriptions of 1930s Ceylon, and it captures the feel of place and time. It is written in a gentle style, often reflecting the feel of an era when Britishness was pretty ubiquitous on the island, yet another little corner of England. It also gives a little insight into the island as it was then, a history of the diverse cultures that came together, and this all aids understanding of the island as it is today. Light and very readable, I might have liked to see a little more substance in the narrative. I look forward to the next book in the series.