Constable (Constable & Robinson)
Date: October 2003
it at Amazon US || UK
Historical Crime [1922 Afghanistan]
Rachel A Hyde
was last seen heading home for Scotland Yard, but here he is back
on secondment and staying with an old friend who is commander of
a frontline fort. There is a truce with the Afghans following years
of intermittent conflict, but assembled at the fort are just the
people to light the blue touch paper and start another war. Each
of them has something to hide and when a Pathan prince dies suddenly
the Afghans ride off with a hostage. It is up to Joe to sort things
out, while trying unsuccessfully to chaperone fabulously rich American
heir Lily Coblenz. He will find that the answer lies in the past,
and all the guests at the fort could have a motive to be the killer.
Barbara Cleverly combines the readability
of Agatha Christie with a sharp eye for detail and draws many parallels
with the present situation in Afghanistan without resorting to anachronism.
What appears on the surface to possess many elements of the "cosy"
crime school paints a bleak and uncompromising picture of a place
that seems to spell doom to anybody who is not native. The two contrasting
elements of this novel work well together and add up to a novel
that is pacy, readable and original, not least because it is peopled
with the sort of characters associated with classic crime novels
of the era it depicts. This continues to be a series to watch for,
and to look forward to. Classic era crime for modern readers.