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The Palace Tiger

By Barbara Cleverly

As with the other four titles in this refreshingly imaginative series, you need an elastic band to put on this book to keep the story from bursting out. Joe Sandilands is off on another adventure, ostensibly to hunt down a tiger that has been killing villagers but actually to keep an eye on affairs in the Princely State of Ranipur. The Maharaja is dying, and his heir has recently been mauled to death by a panther. This leaves his second son, married to an unsuitable American woman who formerly performed with a flying circus, and an illegitimate outsider. Joe will more than need the beautiful new gun he has been given by crafty Sir George, and the tiger will just be one of the sideshows.

      A three ring circus of a book with nets of red herrings, lots of suspects and some amazing plot turns. Even the big story isn't all these two covers contain, for this is also one of those books that have the power of dropping the reader into their special world. 1920s India, on the brink of changing forever, is alive in here together with harems, suttee, rooms of jewels, tiffin and the joys of early aviation. Joe is a believable protagonist, albeit a little dull in such a magnificent setting, and to pick out a minor gripe most of the characters are a little on the stock side. But pardon me for preferring a plot-led book as I found this detail didn't mar my pleasure in the slightest. One of the best whodunits of 2004.

The Book

Constable & Robinson
September 2004
Historical Crime [1922, India]
More at || UK



The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2005
© 2005