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RAGTIME IN SIMLA

Barbara Cleverly, Author . Carroll & Graf $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1246-5

Fully developed characters and a convincing portrayal of time and place lift Cleverly's second historical (after 2002's The Last Kashmiri Rose) featuring Commander Joe Sandilands, a Scotland Yard detective stationed in post–WWI India. Sandilands has a personal stake in catching a cunning murderer, as the victim was struck down just inches away from him as they paused to admire the view from a spot known as Devil's Elbow in Simla, the summer capital of the Raj. Despite his fleeting acquaintance with the murdered man, a noted Russian singer, the sleuth feels compelled to put all his energies into avenging him, a challenge that's compounded when he learns of a nearly identical killing at the same spot a year earlier. The circumstances of that crime lead him to a young, attractive British expat, who's managed to successfully run a major trading house despite numerous personal tragedies. Working with the local superintendent, Sandilands maneuvers through the interlocking threads of Simla's colonial power base, which include a well-protected brothel, a spiritualist and Indian nationalists. The murderer's identity comes as a nice and logical surprise. While the ending suggests that Sandilands may next apply his considerable gifts outside India, the author's talent seems capable of transcending any shift in scene. (Oct. 8)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
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FORMATS
Book - 978-1-84283-461-9
Compact Disc - 10 pages - 978-1-84283-785-6
Hardcover - 504 pages - 978-1-84395-186-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4079-2529-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 353 pages - 978-0-440-24223-9
Paperback - 353 pages - 978-0-385-33972-8
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-84119-740-1
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-4721-1155-5
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