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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review - A very private enterprise - Elizabeth Ironside - a discovery!

This book which is an award winner for a crime writers award for Best First Novel is something which I had never read about amongst the various book blogs I read. It is for this reason that I picked it up as I thought I'd like to read and then do a review on a book which I have never heard about at all.

The book centers around Hugo a diplomat of the British High Commission in Delhi and opens with his murder. The murder takes place in a protected enclave which makes it seem as if its an inside job (and the staff at the High Commission very huffed as if someone should not have had the audacity to do this in a protected place) but as investigations proceed it seems that everyone is accounted for and found correct. Investigations are conducted by Sinclair sent out from England to sort out the mess and seems to be floundering until a huge amount of gold is found in the house and with that the story unravels slowly.

The assumption when huge amounts of monies are found in Hugo's bank accounts is that he has been dealing with either currency smuggling, smuggling of artefacts or has been blackmailed over his supposed homosexual leanings or in turn has been blackmailing another comrade at the Russian embassy. By the end of the story we find that Hugo with his love of all things Tibetan has endowed all his assets back to the Tibetan people to set up a Museum in order that everything would be preserved and maintained. This very worthy end to the story is one that surprised me as assumptions are continuously being made that the money acquired by Hugo is for personal gain and personal enrichment, as everyone speaks about his love of Tibetan antiques as being almost an obsessive love.

How the entire murder investigation has to be covered up for various diplomatic reasons and to show the Embassy in a good light is also part of the story. At the end it seems that no one is interested in finding out the actual murderer and what is important is how to cover up and account for the huge amounts of money and gold discovered after the murder. It is at the very end of the book that the actual murderer reveals itself and here we see how the author has shown that Hugo was murdered not for money, gold or anything material but just because he did not know how to love someone who loved him dearly and who realized that she has no place in his scheme of things and that his artefacts were his love and that she was just a passing whim which he had already forgotton.

The author covers a fairly wide area geographically in this novel - from Delhi to Ladakh and Leh, to Kashmir and then to the mountainous regions of Kargill and beyond and this adds to the descriptive nature of the tale - all integral to the story of course. Add to this a budding romance between Sinclair and Janey a visitor to Hugo's house who also becomes involved in the whole investigation.

I was glad I picked this book up despite not having read about it at all. It proves that there are good books out there still to be discovered. After this, I may not always go on recommendations but also look for books which appeal to me as well.

4 comments:

chasingbawa said...

Sounds like you really enjoyed this book! It's wonderful when you chance upon a good book in a secondhand shop isn't it? That happened to me with Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series which I found in a small bookshop in Chicago. Btw, I've got Elizabeth Ironside's Death in the Garden in my TBR pile. I've never read any of her stuff before, so I'm glad you've put up a nice review!

Mystica said...

Thank you for this recommendation. I visited my second hand bookshop last evening and came away with a very good pile! Glad you liked this review.

Cym Lowell said...

Well written review! I am now a follower and look forward to reading more of your blog. Thanks for joining the party.

-CYM

StephanieD said...

I love finding good books that no one else I know is blogging about. In fact I try to stay away from the "popular" books when blogging - unless I am so enthralled with it that I have to tell everyone I know. And really, with thousands of books being published each year, the lesser known books need all the love we can give them.