What the blurb says: “Madras in the 1920s. The British are slowly losing the grip on the subcontinent. The end of the colonial enterprise is in sight and the city on India’s east coast is teeming with intrigue. A grisly murder takes place against the backdrop of political tension and Superintendent Le Fanu, a man of impeccable investigative methods, is called in to find out who killed a respectable young British girl and dumped her in a canal, her veins clogged with morphine.
As Le Fanu, a man forced to keep his own personal relationship a secret for fear of scandal in the face British moral standards, begins to investigate, he quickly slips into a quagmire of Raj politics, rebellion and nefarious criminal activities that threaten not just to bury his case but the fearless detective himself.”
Madras Miasma is the first book in the Detective Le Fanu mystery series. Set in the 1920s it gives a glimpse into the life and challenges of a forward thinking detective at a time of rising unrest and change in India.
Le Fanu is an engaging protagonist. His meticulous attention to detail reminded me a little of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and his determination to follow the evidence, without bowing to those in society who expected special treatment, makes him a likeable and courageous hero.
The detective, Le Fanu, and his Sergeant, Habi, soon discover that the young woman found dumped in a canal is a ‘fisherwoman’ from England – an unmarried lady on a ‘fishing’ expedition to India to find a wealthy husband. As they track her movements during the final days of her life, they find a web of secrets and scandalous goings on, and come under increasing pressure from senior officials to modify their investigation.
What I especially enjoyed about this novel was the strong sense of place and the vivid descriptions of setting, society and customs which pulled me into the narrative and made me feel the heat of the sun, the rising political tensions, and the challenges between the old guard and more progressive police work.
Packed with mystery and suspense, this is an engaging read.
To find out more about Brian Stoddart and his writing hop on over to his blog at http://professorbrianstoddart.com/category/a-madras-miasma/
[with thanks to Brian Stoddart for my copy of Madras Miasma]