19 December 2023


  • This edition read as an e-book on my Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BDDT1RHZ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Soho Crime (June 6, 2023)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 289 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1641294299

Synopsis (Amazon)

 A charming and atmospheric debut mystery featuring a 25-year-old Indian police sergeant investigating a missing persons case in colonial Fiji

1914, Fiji: Akal Singh, 25, would rather be anywhere but this tropical paradise—or, as he calls it, “this godforsaken island.” After a promising start to his police career in Hong Kong, Akal has been sent to Fiji as punishment for a humiliating professional mistake. Lonely and grumpy, Akal plods through his work and dreams of getting back to Hong Kong or his native India.

When an indentured Indian woman goes missing from a sugarcane plantation and Fiji’s newspapers scream “kidnapping,” the inspector-general reluctantly assigns Akal the case. Akal, eager to achieve redemption, agrees—but soon finds himself far more invested than he could have expected.

Now not only is he investigating a disappearance, but also confronting the brutal realities of the indentured workers’ existence and the racism of the British colonizers in Fiji—along with his own thorny notions of personhood and caste. Early interrogations of the white plantation owners, Indian indentured laborers, and native Fijians yield only one conclusion: there is far more to this case than meets the eye.

Nilima Rao’s sparkling debut mystery offers an unflinching look at the evils of colonialism, even as it brims with wit, vibrant characters, and fascinating historical detail. 

My Take

Set in colonial Fiji in 1914, this mystery novel takes readers to a time and setting with which most of us are not familiar, but the author certainly is.

An indentured Indian woman goes missing, and a local priest brings the attention of the newspapers to what he calls a kidnapping. Newly arrived from Hong Kong, Sergeant Akal Singh is already in trouble with his boss who reluctantly sets him to investigate the case. The last thing the Inspector wants is for the kidnapping claim to be true, and for his world to be rocked with scandal. 

A very readable first novel.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Nilima Rao is a Fijian Indian Australian who has always referred to herself as “culturally confused”. She has since learned that we are all confused in some way and now feels better about the whole thing. When she isn’t writing, Nilima can be found wrangling data (the dreaded day job) or wandering around Melbourne laneways in search of the next new wine bar.

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