India, 1922. In Panikhat, 50 miles from Calcutta, the wives of officers in the Bengal Greys have been dying violently, one every year and always in March. All the deaths are bizarre and seem accidental. The only link between them is the small red roses that mysteriously appear on the women's graves on the anniversaries of their deaths.
The first victim perished in a fire, the second was bitten by a cobra, another was thrown off her horse into a ravine, while the fourth drowned. When the fifth, the pretty young wife of Captain Somersham, is found with her wrists cut, the Governor of Bengal refuses to accept a suicide verdict and calls for help from the reluctant Joe Sandilands, currently on secondment to the Bengal police.
©2001 Barbara Cleverly (P)2002 Soundings
The detail in the book was excellent - the descriptions and evocation of both time and place brought the novel to life. I didn't see it had been written by Cleverly, and it felt as though it had been written by a man, such was the description and exchanges between the male characters. There were only three females in the book and two of them were rather weak, the third, Kitty, was excellent (maybe because she was a tough old boot and a matriarchal type who had been running the women in the military station in india for so long she would have no nonsense, and spoke her mind).
I did not have a person as a favourite character. I think "India" was my favourite character, if a place can be a character. You saw all sides of it, the smells, heat and the influence the British had on the native population.
He had such a clear voice, and it made the parts explaining the Indian honour code (very important to the plot) much easier to understand.
Yes it was. I kept wanting to know what happened next. There were some twists thrown in which made me want to know more!
The only weak point was the sort of romance between two of the main characters, It was not very well drawn, and the descriptions made me squirm a bit (another reason I thought it had been written by a chap!) BUT...it was only a very small part of the book and the episodes flashed by, so did not really detract from the novel overall.
Sue and Jeff, listening together
A well presented mystery in a slightly different time - the height of the British Raj. Good sense of time and place.
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