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The Damascened Blade by Barbara Cleverly
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The Damascened Blade (2003)

by Barbara Cleverly

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261867,638 (3.64)38
"The screams of a wounded British soldier abandoned at the bottom of a dark ravine are heard by a young Scottish subaltern. Ignoring the command to retreat, the Highlander sets out alone to rescue his fellow officer from the Pathan tribesmen who are slowly torturing him to death." "Twelve years later the backwash from this tragic incident threatens to engulf Detective Joe Sandilands. On secondment from Scotland Yard, Joe is spending a fortnight's leave with an old army friend, James Lindsay, commander of the front line fort at Gor Khatri. An uneasy truce has been holding with the Afghans to the north but everyone is aware of the local saying, 'When the peace treaty has been signed - that's when the war starts.'" "Into this delicate situation there comes an ill-assorted group of visitors to the fort. War observer, spy, doctor, trader, each has a strong personal reason for being in this volatile and dangerous place. To his dismay, Joe is charged with the safety of one of them, Lily, a rich and self-assured American girl. When another of the guests, a handsome Pathan prince, dies mysteriously in the night the fragile peace between the British and the surrounding tribes is jeopardized. Joe and James have seven days in which to identify, arrest and execute the murderer before the frontier erupts into war. Assistance from an unlikely quarter - Lily - is forthcoming. But can Joe trust her?"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This is a formulaic mystery set in the Indian-Afghani frontier in the 1920s. Stock characters include the headstrong American heiress, the Scotland Yard copper, various war weary British soldiery, a suspicious doctor, Machiavellian politicians, grasping Lords and bloodthirsty locals. It's a fun mystery, but wildly improbable with a ridiculously convoluted plot. It would make a good addition to the BBC/PBS Mystery series. ( )
  varielle | Feb 2, 2017 |
Tricky, and somewhat improbably, but a good if not memorable read. ( )
  MikeRhode | Feb 5, 2015 |
The third of the Joe Sandilands mystery series. Joe ended the Great War stuck in India and he can’t seem to ever make it home. Here he begins taking a vacation to the NW frontier to visit one of his mates from the war. Unluckily for him, he gets a call and finds himself assigned to protect an American heiress who is looking for the mystery, magic and exotic wonders of India. She didn’t find that in Simla where she’d been pretty much locked up in the British cantonment, so she weedles her way to the one place where a shooting war could break out any time.

Not long after she arrives, along with some British high mucky mucks, a Pathan group arrive to escort a doctor through the Kyber Pass to Kabul. On the night of the welcoming dinner, one of the guests ends up poisoned.

I love this series, set in the 20s, and Joe is an interesting mix of stern DCI and military type who understands how politics can complicate matters.  Lovely local color and always an exotic feel for this series. ( )
  majkia | May 11, 2014 |
More like 3 1/2. The plot got really bogged down in the middle part, if not for that it would have earn 4 stars.

The women characters were really well done. From Betty, the officer's wife, competent and bright (pregnant too) to Grace, the elderly doctor on a mission to Lily, the young American free spirit. Even secondary women characters with only cameo, I'm thinking about the Australian gypsy and the young chief's wife were bright lights in this novel. It's rare that you get so many strong, competent, smart female characters all at once.

Now the story, this is the British Indian and what is now Pakistan frontier in the 1920's. Tribal wars, feuds, grudges and revenge. We join Joe Sandilands, Cleverly's hero, in his next adventure. A fort at the edge of the wilderness, a dead visitor that has the potential to bring out full out tribal war. A list of suspect to death that may or may not be murder. The overall idea is good, the resolution is good, it's the execution that brings down the pace. There are secondary characters that we don't need to know so much about. I'm thinking of the British Air Force officer or the Delhi bureaucrat. They have their role to play into the plot but too much time was spend on their background. Unless Cleverly plans on bringing them back.

So good characters, good plot overall but slow pace. ( )
  writerlibrarian | Sep 13, 2013 |
mystery,India,Amazon received
  romsfuulynn | Apr 28, 2013 |
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