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A Disappearance in Fiji

by Nilima Rao

Series: Akal Singh (1)

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1309214,650 (3.65)8
1914, Fiji: Akal Singh, 25, would rather be anywhere but this tropical paradise--or, as he calls it, "this godforsaken island." After a promising start to his police career in Hong Kong, Akal has been sent to Fiji as punishment for a humiliating professional mistake. Lonely and grumpy, Akal plods through his work and dreams of getting back to Hong Kong or his native India. When an indentured Indian woman goes missing from a sugarcane plantation and Fiji's newspapers scream "kidnapping," the inspector-general reluctantly assigns Akal the case. Akal, eager to achieve redemption, agrees--but soon finds himself far more invested than he could have expected. Now not only is he investigating a disappearance, but also confronting the brutal realities of the indentured workers' existence and the racism of the British colonizers in Fiji--along with his own thorny notions of personhood and caste. Early interrogations of the white plantation owners, Indian indentured laborers, and native Fijians yield only one conclusion: there is far more to this case than meets the eye. Nilima Rao's sparkling debut mystery offers an unflinching look at the evils of colonialism, even as it brims with wit, vibrant characters, and fascinating historical detail.… (more)
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» See also 8 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Sergeant Akal Singh has been transferred to Fiji from Hong Kong, and it's not a good sign for his career. Fiji in 1914 has all the hallmarks of a British colony, with racism the accepted norm and labor by indentured workers brought over from the poorest parts of India. Slavery has been abolished, but this is little different.

Singh is grudgingly assigned to the case of a 'coolie', as the indentured are referred to, who has disappeared. It would have gone unnoticed except for a local priest contacting the newspaper, to insist it was a kidnapping, and now the police must find a way to resolve it as quickly as possible. But when Singh gets to the sugar cane plantation, things are not what they seem.

An interesting first book from an author who has researched family roots in the same time and place, and is appalled by the poverty of both India and Fiji.
  ffortsa | May 16, 2024 |
#ReadAroundTheWorld. #Fiji

Disappearance in Fiji is the debut of a mystery series by Fijian Indian Australian author Nilima Rao. It is an engaging story featuring a likeable hero: Indian police sergeant Akal Sing, who has recently been transferred to Fiji from Hong Kong to what he considers a backwater post.

Akal is soon sent to solve a missing persons case, or more accurately hush it up, when an Indian female plantation worker goes missing. The mystery soon ratchets up and exposes all the cracks in 1914 colonial Fiji with its racism, dirty secrets and terrible treatment of its Indian workers.

This was a great debut that not only got the reader involved in solving the crime but also gave much insight into Fiji’s colonial history and culture. I’ll definitely look out for another of this author's books. ( )
  mimbza | Apr 7, 2024 |
A delightful mystery, and historically fascinating. It takes place in Fiji, where a Sikh Indian police sergeant is sent, after a career failure in Hong Kong, to solve the mystery of a missing indentured coolie woman. Thus a collision of cultures and classes. I like the main characters, who are nuanced and believable. They navigate their own ambitions and blind spots and hopes in a believable and even beguiling way. The plot is complex and interesting.

I rated this book only 3 1/2 stars, however, because the “bad guys” were all a little flat, and portraying all the plantation owners as evil in a one-dimensional way makes the mystery less interesting, and almost predictable.

That’s a minor complaint, and one I suspect this author will get beyond in her next book. This book stands well as a nicely crafted mystery with excellent main characters, and important insights about a history and culture most of us knew nothing about. Recommended. ( )
  bjellis | Jan 23, 2024 |
Set in colonial Fiji in 1914, this mystery novel takes readers to a time and setting with which most of us are not familiar, but the author certainly is.

An indentured Indian woman goes missing, and a local priest brings the attention of the newspapers to what he calls a kidnapping. Newly arrived from Hong Kong, Sergeant Akal Singh is already in trouble with his boss who reluctantly sets him to investigate the case. The last thing the Inspector wants is for the kidnapping claim to be true, and for his world to be rocked with scandal.

A very readable first novel. ( )
  smik | Dec 18, 2023 |
A wonderful debut.................
A Disappearance in Fiji by Nilima Rao is a wonderful story which entertains you to the end. The storyline reveals the racist culture in plantations in Fiji which was really unnerving. Akal, our protagonist also a policeman faces racism during his investigations which was really astonishing for me. The mystery deepens and the readers are transported into a world of plantations and exploitation of women. Indeed, the story is focused on the conditions of women in Fiji during British rule. Akal's character rules the story, but other's are also good. A grasping plot with an unexpected climax is what I would like to define the book as. It was a pleasure reading the book.

Thanks to Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for providing me with an opportunity to read and review the book. ( )
  Sucharita1986 | Sep 11, 2023 |
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1914, Fiji: Akal Singh, 25, would rather be anywhere but this tropical paradise--or, as he calls it, "this godforsaken island." After a promising start to his police career in Hong Kong, Akal has been sent to Fiji as punishment for a humiliating professional mistake. Lonely and grumpy, Akal plods through his work and dreams of getting back to Hong Kong or his native India. When an indentured Indian woman goes missing from a sugarcane plantation and Fiji's newspapers scream "kidnapping," the inspector-general reluctantly assigns Akal the case. Akal, eager to achieve redemption, agrees--but soon finds himself far more invested than he could have expected. Now not only is he investigating a disappearance, but also confronting the brutal realities of the indentured workers' existence and the racism of the British colonizers in Fiji--along with his own thorny notions of personhood and caste. Early interrogations of the white plantation owners, Indian indentured laborers, and native Fijians yield only one conclusion: there is far more to this case than meets the eye. Nilima Rao's sparkling debut mystery offers an unflinching look at the evils of colonialism, even as it brims with wit, vibrant characters, and fascinating historical detail.

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