I have had this book on my TBR shelf for A WHILE now. I randomly picked it up at a used bookstore forever ago and thought it sounded good. I liked that it was set in a different location than I was used to reading and perhaps might have a hint of adventure in ways that I haven’t experienced before in some ‘far east’ mystery books.
But like so many readers, I took it home and set it down on my bookshelf for another day. Every time I would go looking for something to read, I would pause at the title but then keep going in favor of another lady detective novel where I had known and loved already instead of picking up someone new. But then I was sitting at my sister in law’s house in Arizona desperate for something new to read and for some reason this book popped up on my Kindle App as recommended reading.
Not wanting to spend money on a dud, I downloaded a sample and it was clear from the very beginning that after three chapters I desperately needed the full book—-and the next three books in the series! I will admit that at first I was intimidated by the ‘glossary’ and cast of characters listed at the beginning. I was unfamiliar with many of the words and there seemed to be a lot of characters but I am glad I didn’t let that throw me off and instead it enriched the story for me!
Harriet Gordon stumbles into a murderous web of stolen gems and cutthroat thieves as she runs from her tragic past in an enthralling new historical mystery series set in early twentieth century Singapore.
Singapore 1910–Desperate for a fresh start and to distance herself from her tragic past, Harriet Gordon finds herself in Singapore at the height of colonial rule. Hoping to gain some financial independence, she advertises her services as a personal secretary. It is unfortunate that she should discover her first client, Sir Oswald Newbold–explorer, mine magnate and president of the exclusive Explorers and Geographers’ Club–dead with a knife in his throat.
When Inspector Robert Curran is put on the case, he realizes that he has an unusual witness in Harriet. Harriet’s keen eye for detail and strong sense of duty interests him, as does her distrust of the police and her traumatic past, which she is at pains to keep secret from the gossips of Singapore society.
When a second body is dragged from the canal, Harriet feels compelled to help with the case. She and Curran are soon drawn into a complex web of stolen gemstones and a mysterious gang of thieves who have no qualms about killing again to protect their secrets. (summary from Goodreads)
The setting really made this book something special for me. I don’t know much of anything about Singapore let alone from this era! But I loved discovering this interesting island and the people (eastern and westerners!) throughout the story. It wasn’t heavy on the history which I appreciated but there was enough to feel authentic and exotic at the same time! Having the gem trade play so heavily in the story was also fascinating to me! The gem trade was and continues to be such a mysterious and often shadowed business with no doubt lots of questionable practices. I loved exploring that and how it played into the murder. It gave this book a sense of adventure, romanticism, and exoticness that I was absolutely here for! If for nothing else—-read this book for that alone!
I thought it believable how Harriet and Curran worked together in this one. It wasn’t the case of nosy lady turned detective—-this was truly a case of lady in the wrong place at the wrong time who hates the police! It felt very different from the traditional lady detective series and I just adored watching them work together. They mystery itself was excellent and with enough red herrings and twists to keep me guessing up until the end. Just when I thought I had it figured out, something would shift and I would find myself questioning who the killer could be now! It was absolutely wonderful and I really enjoyed watching the mystery unfold!
This book was unlike any historical murder mystery that I have ever read. I truly enjoyed my time with the characters and was so thankful I had three more books to read with these characters. I loved the rich culture of Singapore and the well constructed complex characters in Harriet and Curran. I am looking forward to binging the next three books while I am here and am only sad that once I am done I will have to wait a year for the next book to come out! If you love historical mysteries with brilliant characters and writing, do NOT miss this series!
Book Info and Rating
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Berkley
Review copy provided by personal collection. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: historical fiction, mystery, cozy mystery