Apart from enjoying a good murder mystery, the exotic setting attracted me to this book. I’ve never been to Fiji, nor do I expect to go there, but travel by book hit the spot for me on a cold grey English November day.
In the Agatha Christie Tradition
The notion of a murder set at an exotic holiday resort also smacked pleasingly of Agatha Christie’s “A Caribbean Mystery”. However, Allsopp’s is very much a 21st century story examining the many modern dichotomies in Fiji; native customs vs foreign influences, international environmental pressures vs financial imperatives for locals, modern communications technology vs the grapevine, man-made luxuries vs natural beauties, long-haul travel vs local transport systems.
The location and the issues are vividly and fairly described, without idealising or sentimentalising Fiji. We’re shown as much of its impoverished and diesel-clogged cities as the idyllic beach resorts beloved of travel guides. (The Australian author B M Allsopp lived there for four years so her experience is first-hand.)
Likeable and Interesting Detective and Team
Against this thought-provoking backdrop and interwoven with these themes comes a gripping murder mystery investigation led by an interesting local detective, Josefa Horseman, who has also achieved national and international fame as a rugby star. (Look out for a great anecdote about how his family acquired their unusual surname.)
His support team includes an appealing and plucky Indian sidekick Susila (Susie) Singh. In time-honoured Sherlock Holmes tradition, he befriends a street urchin shoeshine boys, and has a street team that includes his mother, a retired nurse. I really warmed to these characters, and the wide cast of staff, medics and tourists are all effectively portrayed.
I hope this is the start of a series, as I for one would very much like to read sequels.
Find out more about the author and her work at her website: www.bmallsopp.com/