Trouble in Nuala is the first in a series of investigations by Inspector Shanti de Silva in colonial Ceylon. Although a Sri Lankan himself, Shanti is married to Jane, an Englishwoman whom he had met after she came to the island as a governess. They mix in the “best” social circles of Nuala, up in the hills far from the busy city of Colombo. An experienced policeman, he may feel frustrated by his junior police officers and by the patronising attitude of Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent, but he is determined to investigate all cases without preference.
Although mainly concerned with minor offences such as neglected horses running wild, the sudden death of a bombastic, unpopular tea planter strikes de Silva as being suspicious, so he quietly makes inquiries into all the circumstances. The lonely widow and the planter’s stepson were not happy, the plantation was making a loss and a young lawyer had recently accused the planter of mistreating his workers.
Interspersed with the gradual investigation is a delightful description of the beauty of Sri Lanka and of the pretentious social life of the British community living there in the 1930s. Shanti and Jane have a respectful relationship based on love and consideration, so he willingly eats cucumber sandwiches when he would much prefer a spicier snack.
This gentle, intelligent policemen could well become renowned for his careful and thoughtful approach to crime in an enthralling environment. A very enjoyable and relaxing book to read. I look forward to his next investigation.
You can find Trouble in Nuala here