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The Strangler Vine by M. J. Carter

The Strangler Vine

by M. J. Carter

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3793142,266 (3.88)49
  1. 10
    The Game by Laurie R. King (benjclark)
  2. 00
    Children of Kali: Through India in Search of Bandits, the Thug Cult, and the British Raj by Kevin Rushby (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These evocative books explore the Indian Thuggee cult and its violently adversarial relationship with the British Empire. The well-researched The Strangler Vine entwines the cult into a ripping adventure/mystery novel, and the nonfiction Children of Kali is an Indian travelogue/history.… (more)
  3. 00
    The Cobras of Calcutta: The Decipherer's Chronicles by Grant Sutherland (simon_carr)

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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
An interesting read. A mixture of historical novel, mystery and action novel. As many British novels about British rule in India contrasted with India culture, the story is rich with the contrasts of culture and the mysteries of India. ( )
  yhgail | Feb 20, 2019 |
What a great start to a new series. William Avery is young and not long in Calcutta. He works for the East India Company and is homesick for England. He is very well read and loves the books of Xavier Mountstuart. He spends the evenings in the casino, playing and drinking too much and is therefore heavily in debt. Then he gets an assignment together with Jeremiah Blake to find the lost Mountstuart. What he does not know yet is that he and Blake should be pawn victims for the Company. Blake is a weird guy and often does not talk to Avery, which irritates him a lot. Over time, however, a deep friendship grows between them and both know that they can trust each other blindly. In this story, you learn a lot about life in India in the 1830's. It also shows the inglorious role played by the East India Company for India.
Avery and Blake feel like Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holms. They are in a similar relationship to each other and react very similar.
The story grabbed me from the beginning and I will definitely continue reading this series. ( )
1 vote Ameise1 | Jan 19, 2019 |
Well paced, good characters with complexities, fallibilities, no easy answers. Interesting that reading in concert with Kwame Anthony Appiah's Cosmopolitanism, Ethics in a world of Strangers. ( )
  maryroberta | Mar 27, 2018 |
A ripping yarn set in India in which the machinations of the East India Company are well and truly uncovered. Great opening in the Blake and Avery series by M.J. Carter - well paced, descriptions of India very vivid and really got into the story. ( )
  sianpr | Oct 15, 2017 |
Terrific swashbuckler is the first of Miranda Carter's "Blake and Avery" series.

This is in the junior and the mentor partnership line, with East India Company (the first multi-national?) naive officer Avery partnered with cynical veteran Blake (who had otherwise abandoned the "company") on a manhunt search that takes them into the true-life world of Major-General Sir William Henry Sleeman's repression of the so-called Thuggee Cult in late 1830's India. As you may guess, #FakeNews or #GovernmentLies are not a modern-day invention but have been used as a tool of repression and oppression since time immemorial.

Carter's research brings the atmosphere and period to life and her appendix provides some of her references including the then period exploitation quickie "Confessions of a Thug" (apparently unreadable in today's terms) which mostly cribbed off Sleeman's writing (which were themselves likely partly fictional) and the most recent non-fiction works "Thuggee: Banditry and the British in Early Nineteenth-Century India" and "Thug: The True Story Of India's Murderous Cult."

Was a great bargain as the Audible Daily Deal for $3.95 on April 3, 2017. ( )
1 vote alanteder | May 9, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
[T]he Strangler Vine” is more than just a picturesque quest through exotic lands. Carter makes a subtle critique of how fact and fiction, myth and history intertwine.
The quest takes some surprising turns, and Carter (Anthony Blunt: His Lives) is masterly at keeping the reader guessing what’s really going on. The final revelation is both jaw-dropping and plausible.
It’s a great read, white tigers and all.
As well as being a rattling good yarn in the traditions of GA Henty or Rudyard Kipling, this is also a well-informed and enlightened modern book that has a properly sceptical view of imperialist propaganda. I do not remember when I enjoyed a novel more than this.
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Calcutta, September 1837

The palanquin lurched again to the left and I felt a fresh wave of nausea.
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Book description
Calcutta, 1837.
The East India Company rules India - or most of it - and its most notorious and celebrated son, Xavier Mountstuart, has gone missing.

William Avery, a down-at-heel junior officer in the Company's army, is sent to find him, in the unlikely company of the enigmatic and uncouth Jeremiah Blake. A more mismatched duo couldn't be imagined, but they must bury their differences as they are caught up in a search that turns up too many unanswered questions and seems bound to end in failure.

What was it that so captivated Mountstuart about the Thugs, the murderous sect of Kali-worshippers who strangle innocent travellers by the roadside? Who is Jeremiah Blake and can he be trusted? And why is the whole enterprise shrouded in such secrecy?

In the dark heart of Company India, Avery will have to fight for his very life, and in defence of a truth he will wish he had never learned.
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"India, 1837. William Avery is a young soldier with few prospects except rotting away in campaigns in India; Jeremiah Blake is a secret political agent gone native, a genius at languages and disguises, disenchanted with the whole ethos of British rule, but who cannot resist the challenge of an unresolved mystery. What starts as a wild goose chase for this unlikely pair--trying to track down a missing writer who lifts the lid on Calcutta society--becomes very much more sinister as Blake and Avery get sucked into the mysterious Thuggee cult and its even more ominous suppression"--Dust jacket flap.… (more)

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