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on 13 August 2016
William Avery, a young subaltern in India, is sent on a mission with the enigmatic Jeremiah Blake to find Xavier Mountstuart, poet and renegade, who has gone missing in the wilds of India. Avery is chosen not for any particular skill but because he's the only man available, Blake is chosen because his skill set, logical thinking, a devious nature and a command of several languages, make him the only man capable of finding Mountstuart. As it is an undercover operation they travel light with only three servants and a minimum of equipment. They meet bandits, treachery and danger along the way and eventually, from the inauspicious start of mutual dislike and distrust, form a close bond.
I was drawn to The Strangler Vine by the location and the era which I know nothing about and I do like to broaden my horizons. I can confirm that it is very educational on the situation in India in the 1830s as well as being a Boys Own tale of derring do.
Avery is a young man recently arrived in India to work for The Company as a soldier. Naive and gullible, he believes the spin The Company puts on its activities. Blake, on the other hand, is a radical who believes in native rights and distrusts The Company. There are plenty of lively, enlightening debates and some dark discoveries on British policy in India. There is also a wonderful description of the pomp and ceremony of a maharajah's court.
The plot is very fitting to the period with plenty of action and double crosses. It peters out a bit at the end and seems slightly inconclusive but it held my attention throughout with Ms Carter ratcheting up the tension as she draws you in to rooting for her characters.
The Strangler Vine is a good start to the series and I have no hesitation in recommending it as a good read.