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When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife Jane to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails. However an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances present him with a riddle that he will need all his experience to so When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife Jane to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails. However an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances present him with a riddle that he will need all his experience to solve. Set on the exotic island of Ceylon in the 1930s, Trouble in Nuala is an entertaining and relaxing mystery spiced with humour and a colourful cast of characters.


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When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife Jane to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails. However an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances present him with a riddle that he will need all his experience to so When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife Jane to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails. However an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances present him with a riddle that he will need all his experience to solve. Set on the exotic island of Ceylon in the 1930s, Trouble in Nuala is an entertaining and relaxing mystery spiced with humour and a colourful cast of characters.

30 review for Trouble in Nuala

  1. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    Looks like I have started another series! Oh well who needs sleep anyway! Trouble in Nuala is set in hill town in Ceylon, up where they grow tea. The main character is Inspector de Silva who works from a three man police station in the town. The time is the 1930's and the overall influence is British as the country still has not gained its independence. The whole effect is as charming and low key as Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe novels. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have immediately add Looks like I have started another series! Oh well who needs sleep anyway! Trouble in Nuala is set in hill town in Ceylon, up where they grow tea. The main character is Inspector de Silva who works from a three man police station in the town. The time is the 1930's and the overall influence is British as the country still has not gained its independence. The whole effect is as charming and low key as Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe novels. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have immediately added book two to my list.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

    2.5★ So many friends and reviewers on Goodreads seem to like this book. I liked the idea behind the book. I liked the setting & Steel's very evocative descriptions of Ceylon's (Sri Lanka's) scenery, customs & delectable cuisine. The covers (and I am shallow enough to be swayed by covers) are eyecatching and Steel sensibly isn't changing them every 5 minutes! That is pretty much where it stops for me. After such wonderful scene setting in the beginning, for a short book, this one started to drag. 2.5★ So many friends and reviewers on Goodreads seem to like this book. I liked the idea behind the book. I liked the setting & Steel's very evocative descriptions of Ceylon's (Sri Lanka's) scenery, customs & delectable cuisine. The covers (and I am shallow enough to be swayed by covers) are eyecatching and Steel sensibly isn't changing them every 5 minutes! That is pretty much where it stops for me. After such wonderful scene setting in the beginning, for a short book, this one started to drag. The main problem was the stilted dialogue. Clichéd characters also didn't help. There were also very few suspects in the murder of a disliked and brutal plantation owner. If it wasn't such a short book (it finished at 89% on my Kindle) I think I would have abandoned the read. Not many mystery series start strong though - and I do have the second book in the series on my kindle. I may still read and see if it shows more character and plot development. https://wordpress.com/view/carolshess...

  3. 5 out of 5

    HBalikov

    "When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife Jane to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails. However an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances present him with a riddle that he will need all his experience to solve..." This is the first book in Steel’s series about Inspector Shanti de Silva set in Sri Lanka when it was still Ceylon an "When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife Jane to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails. However an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances present him with a riddle that he will need all his experience to solve..." This is the first book in Steel’s series about Inspector Shanti de Silva set in Sri Lanka when it was still Ceylon and run by the British. It is almost an explicit homage to Agatha Christie’s character Miss Marple who was able to use her knowledge of people to solve murders that had frustrated the police. "Wherever the British went, de Silva mused, they had the knack of recreating a little corner of England. One day, they would leave and give Ceylon back to her people but, for the moment, the tendency had a certain charm." Part of the delight of this book is how predictable the plot’s format is, like renewing an old acquaintance. Another is learning about how this particular place functions in the time of British rule. "Many didn’t bother to understand what a melting pot his country was. First the Sinhalese, his own people – the true and original owners of Ceylon – then the Tamils, either coming in over the centuries in waves of invasion from South India or brought to Ceylon more recently by the British to pick the tea." De Silva’s wife is English and their mixed marriage is a plot element. Another part is how the English language and the English customs have permeated normal conversation. "‘What are you doing for the rest of the day?’ ‘I might read or do some paperwork.’ ‘Oh, if you’re not too busy, I forgot my library books need returning. They’re already overdue I’m afraid.’ ‘Then I’ll save your ham and take them back.’ ‘Bacon, dear, bacon. I have a list of new ones to take out too, if you don’t mind?’ ‘Not at all.’ ‘Will you ring me tomorrow?’ ‘Of course.’ ‘I’d better go. I hear Madeleine calling. Goodbye, dear.’ ‘Save the bacon,’ de Silva muttered. He must remember that." Here are several more examples for you to judge how Steel’s writing style fits you tastes: "The click of cue on billiard ball and the hum of conversation drifted from a nearby room as de Silva waited. He surveyed the blackened-wood panelling that covered the walls to shoulder height. Above it they were hung with red paper embossed with a lighter pattern of flower motifs. An impressive chandelier composed of a huge iron hoop fitted with sconces containing the lamps dangled from a massive chain. The air was redolent of unquestioned privilege." The story is all told from de Silva’s perspective but mostly in the third person. "In any case, he had come to find his visits to this church very soothing. He enjoyed singing the hymns and the vicar kept his sermons short. However, he still preferred the profusion of flowers in the Buddhist temple; the stiff arrangements favoured by Florence Clutterbuck and her entourage weren’t quite the same. He also loved the aromas that intoxicated the senses and the tom-toms that set your blood racing, so he continued to go to the temple when he felt the need." His wife is the typical English companion full of encouragement if not always helpful advice. "‘I’m very proud of you, Shanti. You do know that, don’t you? I hope our conversation yesterday didn’t make you think otherwise. I know I mustn’t assume this man’s guilty just because I dislike the sound of him.’ He kissed her back. ‘And I mustn’t take it for granted that because something is difficult, it’s not worth pursuing. It’s good for me to be reminded that I must stick to my rifles.’ ‘Stick to your guns, dear. It’s stick to your guns.’"

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kavita

    Finally, a modern mystery author I like. Of course, she is British! What else? Who else knows to write murder mysteries as well as the Brits?! This series follows the adventures of Inspector de Silva, in charge of the police station in Nualla (fictional) in Sri Lanka. Trouble in Nuala is the first of a hopefully long series. Shanti de Silva is a Sri Lankan Buddhist married to Jane, an English Christian. It is rather anachronistic, but I actually did not mind it much. It was not very relevant to Finally, a modern mystery author I like. Of course, she is British! What else? Who else knows to write murder mysteries as well as the Brits?! This series follows the adventures of Inspector de Silva, in charge of the police station in Nualla (fictional) in Sri Lanka. Trouble in Nuala is the first of a hopefully long series. Shanti de Silva is a Sri Lankan Buddhist married to Jane, an English Christian. It is rather anachronistic, but I actually did not mind it much. It was not very relevant to the plot and the setting is very laidback and easygoing and rural, which is how I like my mysteries. In this one, a cruel tea plantation owner is found murdered and all suspicions point towards Gooptu, the man he had just recently flogged and sent away. But as the mystery unfolds, de Silva finds that there are many more suspects. I loved the setting a lot. Steel manages to give a vague feel of British Ceylon while not going into the nitty gritty of historical fiction. Her research is mediocre, especially regarding food and names, but she does get a lot of things right too. I am not too finicky because the story itself transports you to a different time and country, mostly because of the pace and utter lack of technology. The actual mystery was intriguing too, and I liked most of the characters. Mild racism was depicted but not so much as to force me to take notice and spoil my fun. I think Steel got the right formula for a honest but ultimately fun book. I am definitely going to continue with this series. It's free too if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    Ceylon in the 1930s, a time when British Colonial rule created interesting contrasts, and sometimes conflicts, with traditional culture. Inspector Shanti de Silva must solve a murder and find the owner of lost ponies. Harsh treatment on the factory floor ‘What happened?’ ‘Allegedly, Renshaw flogged one of his workers, a man called Hari Gooptu. Renshaw denied it and said Gooptu was malingering, claiming he’d trodden on a stray nail on the factory floor that had flown off one of the machines and he w Ceylon in the 1930s, a time when British Colonial rule created interesting contrasts, and sometimes conflicts, with traditional culture. Inspector Shanti de Silva must solve a murder and find the owner of lost ponies. Harsh treatment on the factory floor ‘What happened?’ ‘Allegedly, Renshaw flogged one of his workers, a man called Hari Gooptu. Renshaw denied it and said Gooptu was malingering, claiming he’d trodden on a stray nail on the factory floor that had flown off one of the machines and he was unable to walk.’ De Silva winced at the thought. ‘And was he?’ ‘According to Renshaw, there wasn’t much wrong with him and in any case he’d driven the nail into his foot deliberately to avoid working. Apparently he’s been a troublemaker for some time.’ ‘But flogging…’ English idioms expressed . . . a warning shot across the ship would be a better way of dealing with it and enough to make Renshaw think twice about his actions.’ ‘Across the bows, dear.’ what’s the English expression – a bus driver’s holiday?’ ‘A busman’s holiday, dear.’ ‘You forget that I know many of your strange English expressions. You call ladies “bluestockings” when their stockings are not blue; you say something happens “once in a blue moon”, but the moon is never blue and when my roses flower well, you tell me I have a green thumb.’ English cuisine at its most bland He picked up a sardine sandwich and took a bite. He would never fathom why the British liked their food so bland. De Silva finished his sardine sandwich and helped himself to an egg and cress. Ceylon’s version of Buddhism didn’t require its followers to be strict vegetarians and he sometimes ate meat; luncheon meat was, however, a step too far. In his opinion, it was one of the least appealing of British creations. Inspector Shanti de Silva follows several "red herrings" which still cannot put him off the right trail to the murderer. Find out how he does it. Enjoy!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tripfiction

    Cosy murder mystery set in 1930s CEYLON This novel is the #TFBookClub read for November and December 2017. The first in what will undoubtedly prove to be a popular series. Set in 1930s Ceylon (Sri Lanka as it is now), Inspector Shanti de Silva is living there, at Sunnybank, with his English wife, Jane and solving all kinds of murder mysteries. In this first novel, it comes to his attention that Gooptu, a worker on the Renshaw plantation, has been physically disciplined, leaving him pretty severely w Cosy murder mystery set in 1930s CEYLON This novel is the #TFBookClub read for November and December 2017. The first in what will undoubtedly prove to be a popular series. Set in 1930s Ceylon (Sri Lanka as it is now), Inspector Shanti de Silva is living there, at Sunnybank, with his English wife, Jane and solving all kinds of murder mysteries. In this first novel, it comes to his attention that Gooptu, a worker on the Renshaw plantation, has been physically disciplined, leaving him pretty severely wounded – possibly even dead, as he seems to have disappeared. Charles Renshaw, the owner, is generally deemed an unpleasant sort and de Silva needs to have a word with him about his unacceptable conduct. When Renshaw himself is found dead, the immediate assumption is that he has had a heart attack, confirmed by his doctor. But Inspector de Silva has his suspicions that not all is as it seems. There are, afterall, plenty of potential perpetrators, including the hapless Gooptu. The book has lyrical descriptions of 1930s Ceylon, and it captures the feel of place and time. It is written in a gentle style, often reflecting the feel of an era when Britishness was pretty ubiquitous on the island, yet another little corner of England. It also gives a little insight into the island as it was then, a history of the diverse cultures that came together, and this all aids understanding of the island as it is today. Light and very readable, I might have liked to see a little more substance in the narrative. I look forward to the next book in the series.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Srividya

    3.5 stars. Picked this one up on a whim and I must say that I enjoyed it thoroughly. A very nice mystery, though quite obvious. Loved the descriptions of Sri Lanka or old day Ceylon. The tone of the book was very intriguing which lent itself very well to an excellent audio version of it. The condescension of the occupying British, the charm of the Sinhalese, the internal struggles between the various communities has been brought out very well in this book, even if it is a tad bit biased towards 3.5 stars. Picked this one up on a whim and I must say that I enjoyed it thoroughly. A very nice mystery, though quite obvious. Loved the descriptions of Sri Lanka or old day Ceylon. The tone of the book was very intriguing which lent itself very well to an excellent audio version of it. The condescension of the occupying British, the charm of the Sinhalese, the internal struggles between the various communities has been brought out very well in this book, even if it is a tad bit biased towards the British and their superiority. Ah well, it is after all a true rendition of what went on in the early 1930s when this book is based. Definitely recommended to those who like cozy mysteries that are historical in nature.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    This book has been described as a cozy mystery. I thought the mystery was predictable. The story moved at a slow pace although the book was short. Its strength was in the vivid description of the exotic, tropical setting with its lush, fragrant gardens, the spicy food, and the vast tea plantations where the Tamils frequently worked in harsh, unpleasant conditions for meagre pay. I felt the book glorified the British colonial rule, and was biased in favour of the privileged British. Shanti de Sil This book has been described as a cozy mystery. I thought the mystery was predictable. The story moved at a slow pace although the book was short. Its strength was in the vivid description of the exotic, tropical setting with its lush, fragrant gardens, the spicy food, and the vast tea plantations where the Tamils frequently worked in harsh, unpleasant conditions for meagre pay. I felt the book glorified the British colonial rule, and was biased in favour of the privileged British. Shanti de Silva is a Sinhalese policeman who transferred from the busy city of Colombia to the quiet hilltop town of Nuala. He is married to Jane, a British woman who worked as a governess in Colombia. Such interracial marriages were frowned upon by families, but because they were an older couple there were no families to interfere. Shanti and Jane are accepted in the elite social circles. Shanti meets with a British official learns that a Lawyer has been accusing a plantation owner of cruelly whipping a worker. The injured worker is said to have returned to his home in the jungle. Shanti feels he has been ordered to do damage control in the situation. The surly plantation owner denies any cruelty and claims the worker injured himself to avoid work. Shanti warns him not to mistreat his employees and feels he has done his duty. He feels torn between justice and British orders aimed at keeping the peace. His feeling of ambivalence presents him as being complacent and disinterested, but when a murder occurs, it is up to him to investigate and question all the possible suspects. In the beginning, his wife, Jane, seems more inquisitive about the lives of the people who may be involved in the murder. Drawing on the police skills he learned in Colombia, he discovers that some of the suspects had secret lives. What is revealed leads to the closing of the case. I thought the characters had the potential to be more fully developed and the steps to solve the mystery should have been more detailed. Doing so would have resulted in a longer, but more engaging story. I have already downloaded the second book in the series, and am hoping to find it more satisfying. The book gives an excellent picture of the lives and social divisions in an exotic place during colonial times. I feel that the description prestigious lives of the British ruling class is probably an accurate one, not only in Ceylon but in many of their overseas colonies.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nadishka Aloysius

    Bring from Sri Lanka, I may have approached this with some doubt in my mind. How well would a foreigner depict my country and its vibrant culture? Well, I did find a few questionable moments, but overall, I must say the book was quite satisfactory! My first query was - where exactly is Nuala? Some reviews mentioned Kandy, but that is incorrect as many people drive to and from Kandy in the story. I think it is Nuwara-Eliya, which is quite a mouthful to say, and hence quite understandably shortene Bring from Sri Lanka, I may have approached this with some doubt in my mind. How well would a foreigner depict my country and its vibrant culture? Well, I did find a few questionable moments, but overall, I must say the book was quite satisfactory! My first query was - where exactly is Nuala? Some reviews mentioned Kandy, but that is incorrect as many people drive to and from Kandy in the story. I think it is Nuwara-Eliya, which is quite a mouthful to say, and hence quite understandably shortened to Nuala. If the author's descriptions are to be believed, not much has changed from the 1930's to present day Nuwara-Eliya. Hoppers / roti and hot sambol or curry for breakfast, slow trains, even the description of some of the stalls and the market in the town sounded familiar. The author has obviously researched Sri Lankan country life, and this could be seen in many places. For example, where she describes the needless killing of elephants by the British as a sport. I did find some details difficult to accept. The protagonist de Silva is a Sinhalese policeman from Colombo who was recently transferred to the hill country. However, he speaks Tamil quite fluently. Those who did receive an education during the Colonial era studied in English, while the native languages were not taught. One would learn it at home. So I found it difficult to believe that de Silva would be so conversant with what is basically the third language of the country. (Although it is accurate that Tamil is widely spoken in the tea estates since 50% of the population are of Indian origin.) The worst blunder in my opinion is the choice of name for the lawyer - Ravindra Tagore - really? Wasn't there any other name that could be used? Rabindranath Tagore immediately jumps to mind... My favourite aspect was de Silva's take on British culture. The little mental notes and comments that littered the text. I loved the way his wife kept correcting his usage of idiomatic speech - "a warning shot across the ship would be a better way of dealing with it - across the bows, dear" The mystery itself was not as complex as an Agatha Christie novel, but then very few authors reach that height! Overall, an enjoyable experience and a very cozy mystery.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charles van Buren

    Review of Kindle edition Publication date: August 10, 2016 Publisher: Stane Street Press Language: English ASIN: B01K7VSGO8 TROUBLE IN NUALA is a pleasant, light and entertaining read. However, some of the details of time and place do not ring true for a 1930's British Colony. There is also a jarring note when Inspector de Silva finds a bullet in a bird's body. The bullet from the kind of rifle which was kept for protection would be far too powerful to remain in a bird. Perhaps a bullet from a light Review of Kindle edition Publication date: August 10, 2016 Publisher: Stane Street Press Language: English ASIN: B01K7VSGO8 TROUBLE IN NUALA is a pleasant, light and entertaining read. However, some of the details of time and place do not ring true for a 1930's British Colony. There is also a jarring note when Inspector de Silva finds a bullet in a bird's body. The bullet from the kind of rifle which was kept for protection would be far too powerful to remain in a bird. Perhaps a bullet from a light calibre Rook rifle would not pass completely through the bird. If inaccurate details do not trouble you as they do me, you will probably enjoy this fun book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Sinhalese Inspector Shanti de Silva has escaped the hustle and bustle of 1930s Colombo and taken a post heading up the small police station at Nuala, a small town in the highlands (fictional, but readily identifiable as being inspired by Nuwara Eliya by anyone who has been there). It's a time when the tea industry is still young but well-established, and can be lucrative for plantation owners who look after both their estate and their workers. Inspector de Silva receives a visit from an angry you Sinhalese Inspector Shanti de Silva has escaped the hustle and bustle of 1930s Colombo and taken a post heading up the small police station at Nuala, a small town in the highlands (fictional, but readily identifiable as being inspired by Nuwara Eliya by anyone who has been there). It's a time when the tea industry is still young but well-established, and can be lucrative for plantation owners who look after both their estate and their workers. Inspector de Silva receives a visit from an angry young Colombo lawyer, advocating for a tea worker who has allegedly been flogged by his employer Charles Renshaw. With the disappearance of the worker there isn't a lot to go on, so de Silva reluctantly agrees to look into it. But when Renshaw is found dead in his own factory, ostensibly of a heart attack according to the new, local doctor, de Silva can see that it doesn't add up and realises he has a much bigger mystery on his hands. Ably assisted by Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar, de Silva must use his utmost discretion and wits to firstly ascertain whether one or more murders have been committed, and if so, by whom. There's a lot to admire in this first instalment of The Inspector de Silva Mysteries, not least of which is the main character himself. Here is a man who takes pleasure in watching the changes in his temperate garden and never says no to a good afternoon tea spread. He's kind to his staff and obviously adores his English wife Jane, who he married later in life. He knows how to handle people, treating all with respect and yet asserting the authority his position affords him, if he needs to. The other thing that really shone for me was the location, which the author clearly knows and loves. Her descriptions of the town and the tea plantations are transportive. For a cosy, even the mystery had me guessing a bit - I had a different character in the frame for quite a while. Why didn't I rate it higher? I have to admit the colonialism makes me uncomfortable. Right from the start I thought I was going to have a problem with the colonial attitudes. And I did, but not in the way I expected. I realise that for a story set in the 1930s it's inescapable, and I thought it would be the usual British vs native Sri Lankan tensions that would set me on edge. But it was actually more about the attitude to authority - everyone wanted to have a say in how Shanti did his job! Was it because he is Sinhalese? I don't think so. Perhaps it's a combination of things; both the era and the circumstances. However, it wasn't enough to put me off the series, so I will be going back to Nuala for more in the future.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike Heyd

    I am not fond of categorizing books further than fiction or nonfiction, because the best novels often transcend such arbitrary divisions or encompass several of them. Nevertheless, Trouble in Nuala falls comfortably into the "cozy mystery" category. It is also a historical novel, set in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the 1930s. The story involves a police inspector whose retreat to the slower pace of a small town in the hills is disturbed by the suspicious death of a local tea plantation owner. Inspe I am not fond of categorizing books further than fiction or nonfiction, because the best novels often transcend such arbitrary divisions or encompass several of them. Nevertheless, Trouble in Nuala falls comfortably into the "cozy mystery" category. It is also a historical novel, set in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the 1930s. The story involves a police inspector whose retreat to the slower pace of a small town in the hills is disturbed by the suspicious death of a local tea plantation owner. Inspector de Silva launches an investigation, while his English wife, Jane, befriends the widow, who just may have wanted her husband out of the way. The novel is almost perfectly plotted. Novelist Harriet Steel tells the tale in a smoothly unfolding narrative as natural as if one were there watching events as they happened. She describes the setting and the characters with both fondness and understanding, though perhaps through the slightly rosy lens of time. As she explains in her introduction, Steel decided to make Ceylon the setting for her new mystery series after falling in love with the island and its people on a recent visit. Maybe there really was such a nearly idyllic time under British colonial rule. But to be fair, Steel doesn't sugar-coat the lives of the local plantation labors, whose situation is key to one aspect of de Silva's investigation. And she deftly portrays the Inspector's delicate dance between his parochial authority and the requirements of his British overseers. I mentioned above my antipathy to pigeonholing fiction. I have a similar bias against novels-in-series these days. We seem to be overrun by novice authors cranking out every genre of series with little or no honing of their craft. Thankfully, Harriet Steel is not one of these. She has published a few well-received novels and a volume of stories and she knows what she is doing. I am eagerly awaiting her second de Silva mystery, and I'm quite grateful for having received this one for free in a Goodreads giveaway.

  13. 5 out of 5

    J.R.

    If you prefer mysteries with a more genteel aspect and exotic settings, Trouble In Nuala may be just your cup of tea. Set in the British Colonial period of the 1930s in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), this first in a new series by Harriet Steel introduces Inspector Shanti de Silva, recently transferred from busy Colombo to the sleepy hill-town of Nuala, and Jane, his English wife, a former governess. Barely settled into his new assignment, Shanti is ordered by Archie Clutterbuck, his government overseer, If you prefer mysteries with a more genteel aspect and exotic settings, Trouble In Nuala may be just your cup of tea. Set in the British Colonial period of the 1930s in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), this first in a new series by Harriet Steel introduces Inspector Shanti de Silva, recently transferred from busy Colombo to the sleepy hill-town of Nuala, and Jane, his English wife, a former governess. Barely settled into his new assignment, Shanti is ordered by Archie Clutterbuck, his government overseer, to discreetly investigate charges Charles Renshaw, a local planter, has flogged one of his workers. But the worker has disappeared, Renshaw arrogantly denies the abuse and the lawyer who brought the charges suddenly wants them dropped. Puzzled, the inspector moves on to other concerns until Renshaw's suspicious death brings it back to his full attention. Things are not as they first appear on several fronts, including a sub-plot which adds the planter's wife to the list of suspects. I found this a quick, entertaining read with a well-paced narrative, a pragmatic protagonist, an interesting variety of characters, a dash of humor and a balanced look at the political and cultural differences between the Sinhalese, the Tamils and their British overlords. As a side bonus for interested readers, Steel provides a short lesson on the sport of cricket, which has a role in the story.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate Baxter

    It's February in 1930s Ceylon (today's Sri Lanka); a gentle frost touches the grass; the aromatic frangipani and sweet roses perfume the morning air. Such is the setting of this first in series book featuring Inspector Shanti di Silva. With the British ruling Ceylon, di Silva is ever so polite and equally careful not to upset the powers that be. However, he is not easily persuaded to drop an investigation just because it's uncomfortable. He is intelligent and thoughtful and adores his lovely and It's February in 1930s Ceylon (today's Sri Lanka); a gentle frost touches the grass; the aromatic frangipani and sweet roses perfume the morning air. Such is the setting of this first in series book featuring Inspector Shanti di Silva. With the British ruling Ceylon, di Silva is ever so polite and equally careful not to upset the powers that be. However, he is not easily persuaded to drop an investigation just because it's uncomfortable. He is intelligent and thoughtful and adores his lovely and caring British wife, Jane. Such a mixed marriage was unusual in its day yet somehow, they made it work. Di Silva is requested by an area British official to look into accusations that a local English plantation owner has inappropriately flogged a worker - essentially, Di Silva's on damage control duty. Matters heat up a bit and pretty soon, there's a dead body on Di Silva's hands and a murder to unravel. From the atmospheric descriptions of the land, climate and peoples, one is transported back in time to a place of exotic beauty and its stark cultural differences. It's a relaxing read with a tidy ending. Definitely, a great start to this new series. I am grateful to author Harriet Steel and Goodreads First Reads for having provided a free copy of this book. Their generosity, however, did not influence this review - the words of which are mine alone.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I tried this book after reading a blog written by this author about dining cars on the British Railway. I must admit that I had never read a book centered in what was the British colony of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and I plead further ignorance on being totally unfamiliar with Kandy. So I have learned a thing or two by way of Wikipedia. This introduction to Inspector de Silva and his charming wife sets the stage for peaceful living amidst plantations in the period of George V, or the 1930's. The Ins I tried this book after reading a blog written by this author about dining cars on the British Railway. I must admit that I had never read a book centered in what was the British colony of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and I plead further ignorance on being totally unfamiliar with Kandy. So I have learned a thing or two by way of Wikipedia. This introduction to Inspector de Silva and his charming wife sets the stage for peaceful living amidst plantations in the period of George V, or the 1930's. The Inspector proves himself to have a keen eye for misdirection and the intelligence to outwit a devious murderer. Although a murder takes place, this does not spark a rebellion but rather calms the stratified society. A cozy mystery for those who enjoy that category of book, available through Kindle Unlimited

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan Hampson

    This is such a wonderful look back in time to 1930's Ceylon where Inspector Shanti de Silva would have been happy to deal with life's little in justices in Nuala where he lived with his lovely and wise wife Jane. Set amongst huge plantations they enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the wealthy because of his rank and also having the pleasure of their own servants at home too.  Life was really quite laid back. They thought of themselves as lucky as this was a time when not all mixed marriages were acc This is such a wonderful look back in time to 1930's Ceylon where Inspector Shanti de Silva would have been happy to deal with life's little in justices in Nuala where he lived with his lovely and wise wife Jane. Set amongst huge plantations they enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the wealthy because of his rank and also having the pleasure of their own servants at home too.  Life was really quite laid back. They thought of themselves as lucky as this was a time when not all mixed marriages were accepted by their families. When a Lawyer calls upon the Inspector and reports that a worker has gone missing from one of the plantations after receiving an horrendous beating from the plantation owner, with the only trace of him being a blood soaked shirt, the Inspector has to investigate it. What begins as a missing person case soon turns into a suspicious death of  a very wealthy man. Inspector Shanti de Silva has to use all his skills from his days when he worked in the busy town of Colombo if he is going to solve this murder mystery. This is such a wonderful cosy murder mystery that made me smile such a lot. Times were changing and the British had introduced new alien foods that he didn't really care for. A car, that could reach a speed of 50 mph, not that he would ever push it to that and a wife that would regularly ring her husband to ask about his case. Just loved Harriet Steel's writing that created wonderful imagery to go along with this, the first story in the Inspector Shanti de Silva series. I very much like Jane whom I feel will be he husband's sounding block for many more future cases.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Cole

    Inspector de Silva and his English wife Jane waited until they were in their forties to marry. Yes, they'd finally met the person they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with, but they were also old enough to know their own minds and not care about any raised eyebrows. Why the raised eyebrows? Because it is 1930s colonial Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and mixed marriages aren't quite the done thing. Shanti enjoys reading classics like Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe while Jane prefers Agatha Christie. Shan Inspector de Silva and his English wife Jane waited until they were in their forties to marry. Yes, they'd finally met the person they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with, but they were also old enough to know their own minds and not care about any raised eyebrows. Why the raised eyebrows? Because it is 1930s colonial Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and mixed marriages aren't quite the done thing. Shanti enjoys reading classics like Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe while Jane prefers Agatha Christie. Shanti loves the spicy foods of his native Ceylon and finds English food bland and heavy. Jane would never eat chilis for breakfast. These two main characters in Harriet Steel's Trouble in Nuala are fun to get to know-- and there's more. This book has a marvelous sense of time and place. Readers learn about a country under British colonial rule and the problems with which it must deal. Not only that, but the descriptions of the landscape and wildlife of Ceylon are vivid and help to bring the whole book to life. Two examples: farmers set off firecrackers to scare away wild elephants and prevent them from destroying crops, and then there are stunning scenes like "the startling lime-green splash of a paddy field where egrets stood like white question marks." Although the killer's identity isn't all that difficult to deduce, my appetite for the other books in this series will not be denied. The only real problem I have with Trouble in Nuala is that it's too short!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Lloyd

    Trouble in Nuala is the first in a series of investigations by Inspector Shanti de Silva in colonial Ceylon. Although a Sri Lankan himself, Shanti is married to Jane, an Englishwoman whom he had met after she came to the island as a governess. They mix in the “best” social circles of Nuala, up in the hills far from the busy city of Colombo. An experienced policeman, he may feel frustrated by his junior police officers and by the patronising attitude of Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent Trouble in Nuala is the first in a series of investigations by Inspector Shanti de Silva in colonial Ceylon. Although a Sri Lankan himself, Shanti is married to Jane, an Englishwoman whom he had met after she came to the island as a governess. They mix in the “best” social circles of Nuala, up in the hills far from the busy city of Colombo. An experienced policeman, he may feel frustrated by his junior police officers and by the patronising attitude of Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent, but he is determined to investigate all cases without preference. Although mainly concerned with minor offences such as neglected horses running wild, the sudden death of a bombastic, unpopular tea planter strikes de Silva as being suspicious, so he quietly makes inquiries into all the circumstances. The lonely widow and the planter’s stepson were not happy, the plantation was making a loss and a young lawyer had recently accused the planter of mistreating his workers. Interspersed with the gradual investigation is a delightful description of the beauty of Sri Lanka and of the pretentious social life of the British community living there in the 1930s. Shanti and Jane have a respectful relationship based on love and consideration, so he willingly eats cucumber sandwiches when he would much prefer a spicier snack. This gentle, intelligent policemen could well become renowned for his careful and thoughtful approach to crime in an enthralling environment. A very enjoyable and relaxing book to read. I look forward to his next investigation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    I loved this book set in the preWW2 Indonesian Islands, The British are uncomfortably holding on to their privileges and prejudice. The lead figure is a native Ceylonese detective married to an English wife. The case of murder is very interesting given the constraints of the time and walking a tightrope between whose authority the case will be judged. A story of love pervades the tale and interesting thoughts of the people at that time are very interesting.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jae

    Very enjoyable light read set in 1930s Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Ryan

    The story is set in 1930’s Ceylon when it was still a British colony. Inspector Shanti de Silva has left the big, bustling city of Colombo behind with no regrets. He and his English wife, Jane, an ex governess, have settled in the much more peaceful town of Nuala where de Silva runs the local police station with the aid of Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar. De Silva is called to a meeting with Archie Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent, at his home and asked to investigate a plantatio The story is set in 1930’s Ceylon when it was still a British colony. Inspector Shanti de Silva has left the big, bustling city of Colombo behind with no regrets. He and his English wife, Jane, an ex governess, have settled in the much more peaceful town of Nuala where de Silva runs the local police station with the aid of Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar. De Silva is called to a meeting with Archie Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent, at his home and asked to investigate a plantation owner who allegedly flogged one of his workers. Charles Renshaw, the plantation owner, is opinionated and unpopular, with a younger, vulnerable wife and stepson. The investigation progresses at a steady pace and as the case evolves there’s a death which turns out to be suspicious. De Silva refuses to be less than efficient regardless of Clutterbuck wanting the case solved with the minimum of fuss. Perhaps, after all, life isn’t going to be as restful as De Silva hoped. The author’s representation of Ceylon and evocative descriptions conjure up immediate images; the weather, food, scenery and social climate are evident. I can just see de Silva’s sitting in splendour in his pride and joy, the Morris Cowley 2-seater Tourer. 'Rickshaws darted between bullock carts laden with sacks of rice; piles of bananas and coconuts; and mounds of other fruits and vegetables. Stalls offering cooked food lined the dusty streets and passers-by stopped to purchase bowls of curry and rice or paper cornets of sticky sweetmeats.’ An enjoyable, well written cozy mystery with a cast of well defined characters. Shanti de Silva is an engaging and wonderfully drawn protagonist. A man of principle, practical and not averse to following his own instincts if the situation warrants. The wonderful setting sets the story apart and allows a look back at a fascinating way of life and culture. I love the relationship between De Silva and Jane and look forward to the next book. Reviewed for Rosie Amber’s book review team and based on a digital copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Set in 1930s Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), this is a cosy mystery with an interesting setting. Inspector Shanti de Silva investigates the death of a plantation owner - while the local doctor believes it to be natural causes, de Silva is not so sure. The dead man was deeply in debt, his marriage appears an unhappy one, and a young firebrand lawyer has been making allegations about ill-treatment of workers on the plantation. The Inspector painstakingly begins to piece together events. This was a fun stor Set in 1930s Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), this is a cosy mystery with an interesting setting. Inspector Shanti de Silva investigates the death of a plantation owner - while the local doctor believes it to be natural causes, de Silva is not so sure. The dead man was deeply in debt, his marriage appears an unhappy one, and a young firebrand lawyer has been making allegations about ill-treatment of workers on the plantation. The Inspector painstakingly begins to piece together events. This was a fun story - Shanti and his English wife Jane are a sweet couple and their relationship allows the author to show the contrasting ways of life in the colonial setting, as they mix with both senior Government officials and local police officers. Nationalist issues are not ignored, but the primary focus is on the relationships between the main characters and this definitely has the 'cosy' feel. I liked the contrasting characters of Shanti's fellow officers, Prasanna and Nadar, and would like to see more of them in future books. The plot unfolded nicely but it did come to rather an abrupt end. The careful unravelling of evidence suddenly switched to a totally unrealistic denouement and I would hope that in later Books the author would manage to smooth out her endings more skilfully. I would read more from this series, though, as I liked the setting and characters, and the light-hearted tone.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    Greatly enjoyed this cozy mystery in slightly exotic 1930s British colonial Ceylon and would love to have tea with Inspector Shanti de Silva and his charming English wife, Jane, in their home tucked in the lush highlands outside of Colombo. Fascinating investigation of the local British tea factory owner, a very nasty piece of work, on a shabby plantation with ill-used workers. Once this cruel owner is found dead, Shanti has to walk a fine line with both the man’s friend and his lawyer as he wo Greatly enjoyed this cozy mystery in slightly exotic 1930s British colonial Ceylon and would love to have tea with Inspector Shanti de Silva and his charming English wife, Jane, in their home tucked in the lush highlands outside of Colombo. Fascinating investigation of the local British tea factory owner, a very nasty piece of work, on a shabby plantation with ill-used workers. Once this cruel owner is found dead, Shanti has to walk a fine line with both the man’s friend and his lawyer as he works to solve the murder. A mistreated and frightened wife, a mistreated and dismissed worker, a car chase in a Daimler through the thronged streets of Nuala—all these add to the puzzle amid long-ago local color. Another amusing touch to this delightful look at life in Ceylon is de Silva’s malapropisms, which his wife gently corrects (“a warning shot across the ship” is corrected to “across the bows, dear.”) With financial intrigue and worker issues to negotiate, and in spite of the interference of the assistant government agent, aptly named Clutterbuck, de Silva slowly and calmly ties everything together and I was left happily looking forward to the next two books in the series.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer S. Alderson

    This gentle mystery follows the charming Inspector de Silva as he solves crime and murder cases in Nuala, Sri Lanka. Much of the time we are in his head, thinking about society, past cases and his wife, Jane. Reading this book reminded me of taking a pleasant train journey. There is a rhythm to the story that pulls you in and keeps you reading. The settings in Sri Lanka are gorgeous and described so well you can visualize the landscape, tea plantations, colonial outposts and busy cities. I also This gentle mystery follows the charming Inspector de Silva as he solves crime and murder cases in Nuala, Sri Lanka. Much of the time we are in his head, thinking about society, past cases and his wife, Jane. Reading this book reminded me of taking a pleasant train journey. There is a rhythm to the story that pulls you in and keeps you reading. The settings in Sri Lanka are gorgeous and described so well you can visualize the landscape, tea plantations, colonial outposts and busy cities. I also enjoyed learning more about the social structures and ethnic composition of the country. The caste system, interracial marriages, colonial attitudes and treatment of plantation workers are all discussed. The murder mystery is secondary to the story and is only introduced towards the middle of the novel. Much time is spent establishing (what I assume will be) the core cast of engaging characters in this (currently) four book series. I enjoyed traveling to Sri Lanka with Harriet Steel and look forward to reading the rest of the series. My rating: 4 stars content + 5 stars location = 4.5 stars overall

  25. 4 out of 5

    Awesome Indies Book Awards

    This first installment in The Inspector de Silva Mysteries hits all the buttons for a cozy/cosy, down to the cute cover that evokes the British colonial atmosphere of the 1930s. Our detective, Inspector Shanti de Silva, married in his forties to the also-40-something English governess Jane, introduces us to his Sinhalese culture in Ceylon as he craves his spicy dahl lunches while suffering through quivering pork jellies served by local matron Florence Clutterbuck, just exactly the type of lady yo This first installment in The Inspector de Silva Mysteries hits all the buttons for a cozy/cosy, down to the cute cover that evokes the British colonial atmosphere of the 1930s. Our detective, Inspector Shanti de Silva, married in his forties to the also-40-something English governess Jane, introduces us to his Sinhalese culture in Ceylon as he craves his spicy dahl lunches while suffering through quivering pork jellies served by local matron Florence Clutterbuck, just exactly the type of lady you expect. Even in the first chapter I was delighted to settle down with all the touches of British culture in an exotic locale. Every bit of character and plot development is just what we would expect - murder discreetly off the page, sympathetic but flawed suspects, and a thoroughly nasty perpetrator - and that’s what we want with a cozy. Well done!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Markus H

    Did I like it? Hell yeah. I’d say very laid back. Very nice and most of all nicely described surrounding/scenery. A bit of food, a bit of plants Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the 1930. An underlying critique of imagined western superiority. Interesting characters. A cosy mystery, What I didn’t like If anything then it would be. The inspector is ‘new’ on his post. But it ‘feels’ like he’s there for a ‘long’ while. There’s nothing really about he being the new one. I felt he’s too close to his subordinates f Did I like it? Hell yeah. I’d say very laid back. Very nice and most of all nicely described surrounding/scenery. A bit of food, a bit of plants Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the 1930. An underlying critique of imagined western superiority. Interesting characters. A cosy mystery, What I didn’t like If anything then it would be. The inspector is ‘new’ on his post. But it ‘feels’ like he’s there for a ‘long’ while. There’s nothing really about he being the new one. I felt he’s too close to his subordinates for being the new one. It’s just something very minor. No real importance, it just felt a bit wrong to me. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. It was just a ‘fun’ read. 17.5 out of 20 points on my scale. Looking forward reading the other books of the series

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Set in the island nation of Ceylon in 1934, this charming mystery is not complex but serves to illustrate the relationship between the Singelese, the Tamils and the British governors. The relationship between Inspector di Silva and his British born wife, Jane, seems authentic and comfortable. My problem with this short book (and the three star rating) was the ending. The bulk of the investigation was summed up and spoon fed to the reader. I wish the book had been longer and we could have been sh Set in the island nation of Ceylon in 1934, this charming mystery is not complex but serves to illustrate the relationship between the Singelese, the Tamils and the British governors. The relationship between Inspector di Silva and his British born wife, Jane, seems authentic and comfortable. My problem with this short book (and the three star rating) was the ending. The bulk of the investigation was summed up and spoon fed to the reader. I wish the book had been longer and we could have been shown how the case was solved and brought to trial. I will read the next installment in this series, but I hope it has more meat on its bones.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    With a talent for evoking a bygone age, the author takes the reader on an exotic trip to Ceylon in the 1930s. Inspector de Silva is a fabulous character and I loved how his English wife Jane gently corrects his misuse of English idioms, reminding me a little of Agatha Christie's Inspector Poirot. The story is a typical murder mystery, a few suspects, the odd red herring but for me the beauty of the book is the relationship between the characters and the evocation of a different world. I read thi With a talent for evoking a bygone age, the author takes the reader on an exotic trip to Ceylon in the 1930s. Inspector de Silva is a fabulous character and I loved how his English wife Jane gently corrects his misuse of English idioms, reminding me a little of Agatha Christie's Inspector Poirot. The story is a typical murder mystery, a few suspects, the odd red herring but for me the beauty of the book is the relationship between the characters and the evocation of a different world. I read this in one sitting! Can't wait for the rest of the series.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Delores

    Amusing and interesting It's hard to read a book set in a country where the presence of colonizers overlays everything. It is to her credit that the author doesn't shy away from describing the colonizers and a society filled with servants. At the same time she offers no social commentary about these relationships except in one notable scene where the protagonist notes that the English seem to recreate England wherever they go. The story is not overly complex but will likely interest those who enj Amusing and interesting It's hard to read a book set in a country where the presence of colonizers overlays everything. It is to her credit that the author doesn't shy away from describing the colonizers and a society filled with servants. At the same time she offers no social commentary about these relationships except in one notable scene where the protagonist notes that the English seem to recreate England wherever they go. The story is not overly complex but will likely interest those who enjoy a book that reflects a bygone era.

  30. 5 out of 5

    H.L. Carpenter

    This sweet mystery features a peek at life in early 1900s Ceylon, an old-timey intelligent detective who looks beyond the obvious, and a charming love story. Perfect read for a languid summer afternoon.

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