PERAHERA by Julia Leslie


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The perils of an Englishwoman in 1975 Sri Lanka--with fast-forward sleuthing and bloodthirsty villains who are deep into guns, heroin, and US-backed revolution. Jan Nicholls, visiting her father Tom, manager of one of the few European-owned tea plantations, is expecting the arrival of old school chum Christine--but then local policeman Mohan (the only Sinhalese Buddhist in a Muslim village) sends Jan the news of Christine's eerie demise. So, together with new beau Wolfgang, Jan determines to investigate Christine's supposed death-by-drowning, meeting a cast of standard shifties: the sinister undertaker Da Souza; Bob Saunders, the ever-so-reassuring member of the British High Commission; unpleasant tea planter Ted Andrews; and, worst of all, creepy Quincey, a relative by marriage of Sri Lanka's premier and unofficial third-in-command of the ruling party. (Christine, it seems, was seen with Quincey shortly before she died.) In fact, after puzzling over a large shipment of fish at the Andrews compound and a fisherman's murder, Jan finds Quincey conferring with a monk in a jungle cave--and she overhears some references to an upcoming coup! Unfortunately, however, the bad guys have caught on to the good guys by now: in an icky session in Da Souza's parlor, Jan is bound and coffined and about to be tossed on a pyre. . . but she survives, taking a message to His Holiness the Mahanayaka in the Temple of the Tooth! And, after further narrow escapes, the intrepid duo teams up with Mohan to foil the villains . . . with help from a swarm of deadly bambara bees. Comic-book plotting, mellerdrama players--but the scenery's solid and the action is faster than a speeding bambara.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1985
Publisher: Victor Gollancz--dist. by David & Charles