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Devil-Devil (Kella and Conchita Mysteries #1)

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  344 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
It's not easy being Ben Kella. As a sergeant in the Solomon Islands Police Force, as well as an aofia, a hereditary spiritual peacekeeper of the Lau people, he is viewed with distrust by both the indigenous islanders and the British colonial authorities. In the past few days he has been cursed by a magic man, stumbled across evidence of a cargo cult uprising, and failed to ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 8th 2011 by Soho Crime
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April (Aprilius Maximus)
This started off really strong and I loved learning about the different cultures of the Solomon Islands, but I didn't get those feelings of shock, thrill and excitement that I would normally expect from a book of this genre (murder mystery) and it seemed almost anti-climactic.
Rusalka
This. This book was perfect for Singapore. I couldn't quite get my head into a space with Norwegian Wood, where I could imagine snow. What I needed after that, was somewhere where there was 28C temp and 85% humidity like Singapore. This book filled it. So what about it?

Straight up.
This book had 1 major error that I had problems getting past. It just SCREAMED(!) outsider (it was written by a Brit who had lived in the Solomons). All these intelligent islanders, were sent to Australia for an educat
...more
Pamela Bronson
Feb 28, 2013 Pamela Bronson rated it it was amazing
I love this book because it has a slew of interesting, believable characters, two very likable protagonists, a intriguing, complicated plot, and a fascinating setting: still-colonial Solomon Islands in 1960. Sergeant Ben Kella uncomfortably bridges two worlds and two worldviews as the highest ranking native policeman in the islands, as well as the aofia, or hereditary peacemaker (and effectively head) of his tribe. His British bosses don't know quite what to do with him: some value his vast cult ...more
John
Sep 16, 2013 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Think of Sister Bertrille and Carlos from "The Flying Nun" (set not that much later in an "exotic" tropical location also) and you'll get the idea, though that's not an exact parallel. Sister Conchita is very much the pre-feminist model of the early 1960's, dodging bullets, engaging generally in events more suited to Mrs. Pollifax than the Singing Nun. Sgt. Kella, the local bi-cultural (between two worlds) super cop, didn't impress me all that much; then again, I find "dual identity" angst grati ...more
Gerry
Mar 14, 2014 Gerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The exotic setting of the Solomon Islands lends enchantment to this thriller and the pairing, albeit tentatively, of the native Sergeant Ben Kella and the American nun, Sister Conchita, works well. Their relationship is often puzzling but there is plenty of humour and also mutual respect.

Set in 1960 the miscellaneous array of characters is sometimes difficult to take in and what they are doing is also sometimes confusing. But perhaps the latter is what we should expect from a thriller!

Sergeant K
...more
Josie
Oct 05, 2015 Josie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this "who dunnit" murder mystery set in the Solomon Islands.
Having been to Honiara this year it was easy for me to picture the scene.
I loved the rebellious young American nun, Sister Conchita. Always good to have a spunky nun in a story!
The writing for me was enjoyable in a relaxed narrative. I also enjoyed the mystical side intwined into the story along with the goodies and the baddies.
Will certainly look for the other books in this 3 part series.
Phair
Feb 17, 2011 Phair rated it really liked it
I hesitate to list this on my historical mystery shelf as the setting is 1960s- I'm not ready to admit to that as *history* quite yet. While the mystery itself was almost hum-drum (complex but far from exciting), I loved the unusual setting and time period. These are characters and a culture I will enjoy getting to know as the series progresses. Loved the south-seas feel of it. This is going to be an interesting series to follow.
Beth
Jun 02, 2011 Beth rated it it was amazing

← TRUE CRIME : Pay Up Or…….
THE SHADOW OF THE WIND – Another Look →
DEVIL-DEVIL – Graeme Kent
Posted on June 1, 2011 by Beth

Sergeant Ben Kella plays two roles in the Solomon Islands in the early 1960′s. He is a member of the Solomon Islands Police Force and he is an aofia, a spiritual peacekeeper of the Lau people, a role for which he was chosen when he was a child. Kella is an educated islander, hand-picked by his teachers at the Catholic school to attend a university in Australia. From there, he
...more
Emmaa22
May 19, 2017 Emmaa22 rated it liked it
Read this, the first of 3, out of order, but actually enjoyed this more than the first one Iread (no. 2). The island setting is fascinating and intriguing and the characters are interesting and engaging.
Christine
Okay not great. Too much focus on local language, traditions etc that could not relate to
Susan
Mar 01, 2017 Susan rated it really liked it
It would be easy to believe that the author had a time machine to recreate the world of the Solomon Islands in the early 1960’s. The primary tension in the story is between the tradition “custom” ways of the islanders and the inroads of Christianity or at least colonialism. As these conflicts play themselves out between the characters they are internalized by police Sergeant Ben Kella. This is the first of a very unusual series that also portrays the development of a young missionary in her sens ...more
Felice
Dec 02, 2011 Felice rated it liked it
My affection for reading about other countries and cultures often leads me to mystery novels.This time my search led me to Devil-Devil by Graeme Kent. A first for me this mystery is set in the Solomon Islands. And! It takes place in the early 1960’s. Could this be a win-win for me? Another new place and time to explore via the troubles of a gumshoe.


Ben Kella was born on the island of Malaita but educated in the Western tradition. He attended Catholic schools, was sent to college in Australia an
...more
Cathy Cole
Mar 15, 2011 Cathy Cole rated it it was amazing
First Line: Sister Conchita clung to the sides of the small dugout canoe as the waves pounded over the frail vessel, soaking its two occupants.

It is 1960 in the Solomon Islands, which saw some of the fiercest fighting during World War II (Guadalcanal among other battles). Memories of those days are still vivid. Sergeant Ben Kella of the Solomon Islands Police Force knows those days quite well, but he has many other things on his mind. Educated by the whites and now a member of their police force
...more
Karen
Feb 15, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
When it comes to convoluted reasons for picking up a book I suspect this is not a bad one. I've had DEVIL-DEVIL on the piles here for quite some time, but I suddenly realised it was the perfect book to read as a comparison with a manuscript I was looking at. Love it when you have a win-win like this.

Set in the Solomon Islands, Ben Kella is a man steeped in island tradition, educated in western tradition. He's worked in London and Manhattan, and is now a sergeant in the Islands' police force as w
...more
Jane
Apr 08, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, series
Devil-Devil is the first book in the Sister Conchita/Sergeant Kella mystery series by Graeme Kent. The books are set in the South Pacific in the Solomon Islands (the most famous of which is Guadalcanal). It’s the early 1960s, and World War II is a recent event that still affects the islands and the islanders.

My father was a Marine who fought in the Solomon Islands during World War II. He always wanted to go back for a visit, although he never did. I don’t know much about the Solomon Islands but
...more
Kate
This was a strange book for me.

I got it because the ebook was in an advertisement of Amazon; it was cheap and I like crimestories, especially series with one Detektive and maybe a sidekick.
I started to read the novel some time ago, and it was a long way to read it to the end. First of all,english isn't my mother tongue, and to read all those words the natives in the novel speak was quite difficult for me. More so, because my head tried to decipher their language, and find a key to understand it.
...more
Susan
Mar 27, 2011 Susan rated it it was amazing
What a terrific book! It's the start of the 1960's, and Sister Conchita (she thought they were sending her to South America) has arrived at a mission on one of the Solomon Islands. She soon meets Sgt. Kella, one of the indigenous people who's expected to go far as soon as the remaining British give the islands independence. Kella is also the aofia, an office given to a select heir of chiefs, who is supposed to make things right for his people, solving problems, defusing feuds. Kella is back on h ...more
Ape
This was actually a lot better than I was expecting. I really enjoyed it. I was expending a slightly twee, cosy type mystery with simplified Solomon Island locals and culture, but it felt more like being given an introductory submersion into life on the Solomon Islands in the 1960s. Murder mystery aside, it was just a fascinating book to read with some interesting characters that look promising for a future series - namely Ben Kella, an islander who has been educated abroad and is now working fo ...more
Tinika
Dec 21, 2012 Tinika rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, travel, 2015
Devil-Devil was a Goodreads recommendation; I would never have stumbled upon it otherwise. I was intrigued by its locale and time frame - the Solomon Islands circa 1960. It is a mere 18 years since the Japanese occupation and memories are still strong. Most of the main characters have connections back to the local resistance of 1942 which is important to the plot. As far as setting goes, the book does not disappoint; I was transported to a land which I will never experience first hand - an exoti ...more
Elaine Meszaros
Dec 03, 2014 Elaine Meszaros rated it it was amazing
Kent has managed to create one of the rarest of novels. Set in the Solomon Islands in the 1960s as colonial rule is disintegrating, many of the bright boys are given a European education in preparation to take over control of the country. These men vacillate between their traditional village lifestyles and beliefs and their eastern education and Christianity. Kent does the amazing job of giving a solid chunk of island history, the beliefs and religions of the various Solomon Island tribes and fa ...more
Pamela
This is an unusual crime novel set in the Solomon Islands in the 1960s. The protagonist, Ben Kella, tries to reconcile his island heritage with his Catholic upbringing, and uses both faiths to find his way through a succession of crimes. His sidekick is a feisty American nun, Sister Conchita.

This is an intelligent and fresh approach to a detective story. The characters of Ben and sister Conchita are well drawn and sympathetic, the plot is not predictable and the gradual linking of some crimes an
...more
Spuddie
I am a huge fan of mysteries set in exotic locales--this one takes place in the Solomon Islands in 1960. The main characters are Ben Kella, a police sergeant who also is the spiritual leader of his tribe, and Sister Conchita, an American Catholic nun from Boston who chose her name because she thought she was going to South America. Both are headstrong, with a strong sense of justice and courage to do what's right. They find themselves working together on an 18-year-old case of murder that almost ...more
Shomeret
I was fascinated by the idea of a mystery taking place in the Solomon Islands, so I couldn't wait to read this one. I loved both the protagonists. Both Sergeant Kella and Sister Conchita are mavericks who do what's right even if they get into loads of hot water as a result. I also really liked the customs and rituals from the native culture which Kent shares with us in this book. It reminded me of The Coroner's Lunchwhich takes place in Laos and also has a protagonist who participates in traditi ...more
Jeff
Feb 21, 2012 Jeff rated it liked it
Shelves: foreign-lands
This book takes the reader to a place and time unlike anywhere I have ever been. Following the mystery is exciting because of the foreign setting, but at the same time, the characters are entirely understandable and their motivaitons are familiar, perhaps universal.

This makes me wonder why I am drawn to books set in foreign lands? I think it is because though the motivations of the characters are understandable, the situations in which they find themselves often are not. Experiencing events, dil
...more
Martina
4/19/12; re-reading the book for the April Mystery Group discussion on the 24h. It's good all over again.

7/1/11: In the US, the title is "Devil-Devil" I read about 10 pages and love it already! Sister Conchita--my kind of woman.....
Had to set it aside for a while, but finished it at last. Wonderful story, loved the two main characters and many of the assisting parts. Set in the Solomon Islands, the story involves British ex-pats, Islanders, Catholic missions, dream-makers..... Can't wait for fur
...more
Wendy
How can I review this book without sounding like a bigoted "whitey"?
This book IS a powerful mystery full of 1960's British Solomon Island culture: lifestyle, traditions, language, religion, attitude, and more. However, the natives are depicted backward and ignorant. Their beliefs are not written complimentary.The mystery itself is, intriguing, a mix of the old and new world. The descriptions of the natives lifestyle made book feel dated despite a 2011 publish date. As it is written as if it is
...more
Susan
Sep 20, 2012 Susan rated it liked it
This was a great addition to my Reading Around the World quest. However, for the same reasons--introduction to foreign culture and peoples--it wasn't great for me as a mystery. I didn't have a chance of solving the case(s). I could barely keep up with who was doing what where, much less sort through the customs & beliefs of the people to find the motivations that were in play.

I did enjoy the Sister Conchita character and could have done with more scenes featuring her. Ben Kella is a good pro
...more
Barbarac
I picked up this book 5 months ago and had a difficult time getting hooked on it so I set it aside. But once I got back to it I read it in two days.
This had all the potential for a great mystery, but I didn't care for the mystery at all, probably because I found it confusing with all the characters and different locations. I did enjoy the characters, what a mix of interesting folks found in these Solomon Islands. And the book also lightly touches on events surrounding WWII, and natives' customs
...more
Hilary Tesh
Oct 08, 2013 Hilary Tesh rated it liked it
It was clear from the descriptions in this book that the author was well acquainted with the landscape of the Solomon Islands along with its peoples and their customs. However, I quickly began to feel I could do with a history and geography lesson about the area, along with a much better map than the one provided. The book introduces the characters of Sister Conchita, an American nun and Sergeant Ben Kella, the policeman who is also a native of the islands and whose role as "aofia" puts him in c ...more
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