THE DAMASCENED BLADE

Barbara Cleverly, Author . Carroll & Graf $25 (285p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1333-2

Devotees of classic Golden Age whodunits will delight in British author Cleverly's third Joe Sandilands mystery set in India in 1922; it evokes, and in some ways surpasses, the work of Agatha Christie. The resourceful and insightful Sandilands assumes a glorified babysitting assignment when a rich and attractive American heiress expresses a desire to tour India's dangerous northwest frontier with Afghanistan during a period of heightened political tension. The heiress and Sandilands end up at a frontier outpost with a motley collection of companions—a Pathan prince and his kinsman, a female doctor en route to serve the amir ruling Afghanistan, a sleazy entrepreneur, an RAF pilot hoping to gain support for an increased military aerial presence and a veteran civil servant advocating a British retreat. When the prince is found dead, evidence suggesting foul play is suppressed. Sandilands is forced to act on his suspicions when the victim's kinsman takes a hostage and imposes a one-week deadline for a solution to the crime. Cleverly does a masterful job of combining traditional puzzle elements, including false endings and subtle fair-play clues, with convincing period atmosphere and characters with more complexity and sophistication than Christie typically provided. This marvelous historical delivers on the promise of the author's first two mysteries—The Last Kashmiri Rose (2002) and Ragtime in Simla (2003)—and should add to her growing U.S. fan base. Agent, Juliet Burton. (Aug. 3)

Reviewed on: 06/14/2004
Release date: 07/01/2004
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FORMATS
Book - 978-1-84283-684-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-84559-085-7
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-385-33950-6
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-84119-916-0
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-1-4721-1156-2
Hardcover - 376 pages - 978-1-84395-827-7
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-84119-676-3
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