Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Palace Tiger: Joe Sandilands in India, but not at his best

The Palace Tiger (Joe Sandilands, #4)The Palace Tiger by Barbara Cleverly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Barbara Cleverly's Joe Sandilands series is about a British detective and former army man working in India during the time of the Raj. I found the first three of the series to be unique and colorful, portraying the evocative, fragrant era of 1920s India. As I've found with other series (such as those by Patricia Cornwell and Sue Grafton), though, this one is struggling to maintain its originality and verve. My interest is waning a bit.

The book opens up with an exciting scene: a person-eating tiger attacks a small Indian village girl. Soon we move onto the lives of the British ruling class in India and Joe Sandilands is sent by his supervisor down to a Northern territory where the ruling maharaja is dying.

I enjoyed the scenes of Joe engaging with Lizzie and Madeline, as well as the scene when Bahadur catches him by surprise while he was sleeping. But much of the story got bogged down in detail, especially the scenes involving just the British. At times I found myself ready for the book to be over so I could move onto something else, which is not a particularly good sign.

So I've been vacillating between 2 and 3 stars but ultimately decided on 3 because it was good...but not great. I'll read more of Cleverly--the Sandilands series has a unique premise and setting, and all of the characters--Indian, British, and American in this book--are equally considered as possible perpetrators.

I find also that Cleverly writes interesting, strong women characters, and it's clear to me that this series (although masculine in many ways because of the era) was written by a woman.
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