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A Sister Conchita and Sergeant Kella Mystery - Book III
G W Kent

Constable & Robinson Crime
6 June 2013 / ISBN: 9781849013420
Historical Mystery / 1960 / Solomon Islands

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Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

Sergeant Ben Kella and Sister Conchita have their work cut out for them in this third adventure. This time it looks as though a professional assassin, or killman, is at large on the Solomons and he has already killed three people. One of them is the enigmatic Papa Noah, leader of a religious sect and owner of an ark filled with animals. There is a woman from an American university visiting, recording songs dating from the war years, who seems to be getting too close to the truth. Is the killman a Japanese left over from the war, or is it all something to do with the Polynesian island of Tikopia?

This series is likened to the Botswana novels of Alexander McCall Smith and broadly this might be true. They are both sets of detective stories set in exotic places not usually featured in novels and they are both very good novels. Apart from that you can rest assured that there is nothing of the copycat here, and trying to find any mystery series that reminds me of these excellent novels has me stumped. This is all to the good, for true originality is all too rare. They give a tantalizing glimpse into a vanished world, a time when the Solomon Islands were at a crossroads with one foot in the time before, another in the white colonial era and a third looking towards an independent future. There is also, as readers of this series have come to expect, an involved and thought-provoking plot with a modicum of humor. I particularly admire the way the author manages to convey the feeling that almost anything could happen in such a place without resorting to the supernatural. This is currently my favorite historical mystery series and the best thing I have read this year so far. May it run for many books and even inspire others to pen quality novels set in unusual and interesting places.

Reviewed 2013