The last Kashmiri rose
(Barbara Cleverly, 2001)

This is the first in a series of novels in which Joe Sandilands, a London policeman, finds himself investigating crimes in India in the 1920s.

The book seems well researched, though I have no personal experience of India or the 1920s, so I'm not qualified to judge. It gives a plausible sense of the time and place.

As a detective story, it's also competent and readable. Unusually for me, I guessed part of the solution to the puzzle well in advance, but there was still a surprise waiting for me at the end.

It's a story of British India, and most of the characters are Brits living in India. I have the impression that the author has researched India and the Indians but doesn't have much personal experience of them, so she doesn't venture deep into Indian society. However, there are several Indian characters in this story, all highly competent in their own ways. She doesn't want to be accused of disrespect.

Most of the story is set in Panikhat, a possibly fictional location south of Calcutta, where a possibly fictional cavalry regiment (Bateman's Horse, also known as the Bengal Greys) is stationed. Over a period of years, a series of officer's wives have died in different ways, initially thought to be accidental, but after the latest death Joe Sandilands is called in to investigate the possibility of murder.

Written in July 2009