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by Park Place Publications, 4 April 2016. ISBN: 978-1-943887-13-2
The book is set in the early
1990s. Anjali Rao is the wife of a senior U.N. diplomat, K. B. Rao. A problem
during their last posting meant that K.B.'s career had been side-tracked and,
to get it back on course, it is essential that he makes a success of his work
in Laos. To this end K.B. is travelling the countryside making sure the
development projects under his command are completed successfully, while Anjali
concentrates on being gracious and non-controversial, and not involving herself
with any of the vibrant cultural projects at which she had excelled.
the start of the book it is Anjali's fiftieth birthday, which she is spending
in Vientiane while KB is in the north of the country, overseeing a project.
Vientiane is the capital of Laos, situated on the banks of the Mekong River,
and is the centre of the diplomatic and expatriate community. Anjali is aware
of a feeling of dissatisfaction, partly because K.B. is absent on her birthday
but also because of the aimlessness of her life. Her mood is not improved by
having to spend the evening at a farewell party for Sophia, whose husband has
just concluded a tricky U.N. project. Sophia is beautiful, clever and had been
the co-founder of WIVS (Wives in Voluntary Service) and Anjali expects
everybody to be at her leaving party, but when she arrives she discovers that
only ten guests are present. It seems that Sophia is far less popular than
Anjali had thought her. At the end of the party, Sophia gets into her silver
sports car and drives away. The next morning her body is found in the Mekong.
death is declared an accident but diplomat Cyril Witherspoon rejects this idea
and suggests to Anjali that she tries to discover what really happened to
Sophia. At first Anjali refuses but the desire to know the truth plays on her
mind. Keeping a low profile is extremely tedious and Anjali needs some sort of
project to exercise her lively intelligence. Above all, Anjali feels that if
she discovers the truth about Sophia, she will also learn the truth about
herself and her own life and the lives of the other diplomatic wives, who have
to continually 'reinvent' themselves with every new posting. The things she
discovers about Sophia are not pleasant and, as Anjali probes deeper she puts
herself in perilous situations. Anjali discovers that the malice active in a
small, disparate, bored community can be both dangerous and destructive.
Malice on the
is the first novel by an author who has experienced life in Laos and who shows
great skill in drawing the reader into this country, its traditions and its
people. As well as a clever mystery, she is making a serious social point about
the destructiveness of diplomatic life at this time for women who had no
official role in the country and who were often prevented, by the host
country's restrictions, from gaining professional work in areas they were
trained for. All the characters are well-drawn and clearly defined and Anjali,
the chocoholic Hindu grandmother turned sleuth, is delightful. She is a
character with great personal insight, especially as she struggles to balance
the two aspects of her personality: Sita, the dutiful wife, and Devi, whom no
man could tame. Malice on the Mekong is a fascinating novel and a very
Reviewer: Carol Westron
retired after more than 40 years living and working as an independent
consultant on five continents. These international experiences enrich her first
novel, a mystery set in Laos, where she lived for two years in the early 1990s.
Her characters and situations are a fictional blend of the myriad individuals
and events which shaped Nancy’s life in overseas settings as diverse as Guyana,
India, Italy, Kazakhstan and Somalia. She and her husband, author Russell
Sunshine, currently live on California’s Central Coast with five backyard deer
who come and go as they please.
Carol Westronis a successful short
story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly
Dames.Her crime novels are set both in contemporary
and Victorian times.The Terminal
Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published
July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility
of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.