The repercussions from a chance encounter aboard France’s Blue Train, just before its crash in 1919, reach back to India’s Hill Country three years later.
Summoned to Simla, the summer seat of the British Raj, by Sir George Jardine, Commander Joe Sandiland (The Last Kashmiri Rose, 2002), due to return to Scotland Yard in one month, is accompanied to the Hill Country by Russian baritone Feodor Korsovsky, who steps out of their car to admire the view and is promptly dispatched by a sniper’s bullet. Oddly, the long-lost brother of Alice Conyers Sharpe, 51% owner of the mighty Imperial & Colonial Trading Corporation, had been downed in precisely the same spot a year ago. To find the connection, Sandiland seeks out many stunning women, including lovely Alice, one of only three survivors of the Blue Train crash; her dear friend Mademoiselle Pitiot, owner of a tony dress shop; Madame Flora, brothel owner and scheming blackmailer; and Mrs. Freemantle, a spiritualist/con artist. In addition, Sir George has planted undercover agents everywhere. Who conveniently used that train crash to cash in on a big payoff? The answer will involve detours through gun-smuggling, jewelry-pawning, and a ghostly sighting before Sandiland sails for home with one of those lovely, lying ladies at his side—and others ensconced in nearby cabins.
A fulsome period hymn to pink gin that proves Kipling’s dictum that the female of the species is deadlier than the male.