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Death in Kashmir: A Mystery Paperback – 5 Dec 2000
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About the Author
M.M. Kaye was born in India and spent much of her childhood and adult life there. She became world famous with the publication of her monumental bestseller, The Far Pavilions (SMP). She is also the author of the bestselling Trade Wind and Shadow of the Moon. She lives in England.
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In "Death In Kashmir" M M Kaye paints a fascinating picture of Kashmir on the cusp of independence, when the British rule in India finished in 1947. Her descriptions and evocation of the time and place are excellent and provide an interesting setting for her plot. Unfortunately I felt the characters in this story were rather wooden, they all spoke in a rather over-dramatic "jolly hockeysticks" style and were perhaps rather crude ciphers of normal people. There's a faint (very faint!) romance in this story but this is a minor part of the plot which is about intelligence operatives becoming compromised and killed in Kashmir and our heroine, Sarah Parrish, finding herself in the thick of it. There are various minor plot twists, creeping around in the dark, that kind of thing, but overall this story was rather a disappointment. I found myself skim-reading the end, especially when the anti-communist paranoia of earlier decades appeared in this book. The setting is excellent but unfortunately this book is let down by characterisation and the rather over-long plot.
Sarah goes up to Kashmir skiing with a party of other English and while there meets Janet who turns out to be a secret agent with a message. Janet is being stalked and wants to get out of Kashmir, someone will be sent to get her out but she doesn't know if she will be able to get out before she is killed, so she passes on a message to Sarah.
After Janet mysteriously dies Sarah does not tell anyone what she knows, but several months later she receives a letter from Janet's lawyers with a lease to a boat in Kashmir provided and a note from Janet asking her to stay there. Sarah knows whatever message she wants to pass on is on that boat and so she returns with friends to Kashmir but doesn't tell anyone what purpose it is for.
Meantime Sarah has been interested in the gorgeous but mysterious Charles Mallory. He is not interested in any women having a gorgeous fiancee at home, it seems anyway. However he does end up kissing her, and then turning up in Kashmir as well. It turns out that Charles has a secret he doesn't want known, and Sarah must trust someone to help her find the message Janet left, and also to protect her from the other possible enemies including Helen Warrender and Mir.
Lots of possibilities of problems and some creepy moments of people standing in shadowed doorways or intruding on black nights. Nice and suspenseful
Loved the characters, and in this I really enjoyed the period speak and drama. The heroine, Sarah, was feisty and in keeping with her time, and there was a nice turn in romance.
She describes the last days of the British Raj with a hint of saddness and regret while we follow our heroine around the beautifully described Vale of Kashmir.
Lots of atmosphere, menace and intrigue mixed with an old-fashioned 'will-they, won't-they' style romance. If you like Mary Stewart, you'll love MM Kaye!
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