Stevie Carroll's Reviews > Singapore Sapphire

Singapore Sapphire by A.M.   Stuart
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it was amazing
bookshelves: reviewed-elsewhere

Previously reviewed on The Good, The Bad, and The Unread:

I’m a great fan of detective stories set in the first half of the twentieth century, but don’t spot nearly enough new ones set before the First World War, much less set in countries with which I am mostly unfamiliar. So, seeing this novel heralding a new series fitting all those criteria caused great excitement. Harriet Gordon was widowed in India, losing both her husband and son to a typhus epidemic, then took up the suffragette cause after returning to England. Traumatised by her experience of being force fed while on hunger strike in prison, and keen to avoid bringing further scandal on her family after her case was reported in the papers, she now lives with her brother in Singapore, carrying out unpaid administrative work for the school in which he is headmaster and advertising her services as a shorthand typist to other expats in order to earn some actual money. It’s the latter job that leads Harriet into all sorts of trouble when she stumbles over the body of her new employer.

The victim turns out to be a not at all popular chap, although he had gained membership of an exclusive club through fulfilling its criteria for acceptance: he has had a geographical feature named after him. Harriet tries to put the experience out of her mind, but that evening she is visited by a young man who claims that his life is in danger from the same gang who killed Harriet’s client. At first sceptical, and not at all keen to involve herself with the police – even if this time she is a witness, rather than a suspect – Harriet finds herself drawn into the mystery, when the young man is also murdered. Working with Inspector Robert Curran, and also with a local journalist, Harriet attempts to bring down the killers, while also dealing with the more mundane-seeming problems of the boys at her brother’s school.

It becomes apparent that the father of one of Harriet’s favourite pupils is somehow mixed up in the mystery, and when both he and the boy go missing, Harriet is forced to take risks in order to try and save them. Following which, Curran and his allies also rush to the rescue, knowing more than Harriet just how high the stakes are, and just how ruthless a gang she is up against.

This book was written with a real sense of knowledge of both the location and the era. I loved all the snippets of domestic and public life we saw the characters taking part in, and Harriet and Robert in particular were complex and fascinating individuals. I’d like to see more of Curran’s slightly unconventional home life, and learn more about his lover and her past. I’d also like to see more of Harriet’s family, especially following on from the additional member that joins it as a result of this book’s finale.

It goes without saying that I can’t wait for the next book in this series to be announced.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 21, 2019 – Shelved
September 21, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed-elsewhere
September 21, 2019 – Finished Reading

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