It is autumn 1940, and Inspector de Silva and his wife Jane are looking forward to a well-earned holiday. But their hopes of a relaxing break in the picturesque city of Galle beside the Indian Ocean are dashed when death, mysterious illnesses, and a missing guest cast a gloomy shadow.
As they’re drawn into the investigation, the mystery deepens. Is there a villain amongst their fellow guests or further afield? The search for answers will lead them into great danger that has repercussions far beyond the island of Ceylon.
I have read almost all of the Inspector de Silva Mysteries and have grown very fond of the clever Sinhalese police inspector and his delightful English wife, Jane. This mixed marriage ought to encounter disapproval, but the sensible and likeable couple are usually greeted with friendship. Sometimes, however, Shanti De Silva is patronised by senior British police officers because Nuala is seen as a backwater.
Expecting to enjoy a peaceful holiday in a luxury hotel, the couple find themselves in a typical Agatha Christie setting. First a nightwatchman is found dead, then Elodie Renaud, a famous diver, staying in a bungalow in the hotel grounds, is struck down with symptoms of severe food poisoning along with her film team. Soon after Shanti befriends Helen Morris, a charming teacher, on holiday with her demanding Aunt Edith, the young woman disappears under mysterious circumstances. Not only does Inspector de Silva feel he must investigate but bravely, his wife Jane takes an active part in trying to discover where Helen might be. The local police believe she has been murdered by a local fisherman but there several likely culprits among the hotel guests.
The book is set in an uneasy time and place. It is 1940 but Ceylon is not yet involved in the war. People feel guilty at their pleasant lives while there is suffering in Europe. There are vivid descriptions of life in Galle,
“Stalls selling an assortment of fruit, vegetables, tin pots and pans, trays of snacks and brightly coloured drinks were set up along the road. Women haggled over wares while groups of men loitered in the shade of palm trees gossiping and chewing betel. In some places, de Silva noticed beggars crouched on the ground, scrawny arms outstretched and hands holding battered tin cups.”
I enjoyed seeing Shanti and Jane working together to solve the mysteries and events became increasingly thrilling. Like the earlier books, this novel would make a wonderful episode in a TV series.
Break from Nuala on AmazonUK
My Review of Trouble in Nuala
I was given a copy of this book as a member of Rosie’s Book Review team.