This story was my first introduction to the series, and I was left very impressed. I had initial concerns about whether or not this volume would be able to stand on its own enough for me to enjoy the story, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is perfectly readable on its own.
While that was a happy surprise, what was truly impressive was the amount of detail the text was saturated with. So many phrases and words, names of people and places, objects and habits that all seem to transport you directly into this complicated period in 1920’s India. So many books which attempt to paint a good historical picture fall victim to either sounding like a textbook, or plaguing the reader with long paragraphs of dense description – neither were the case here. The author manages to weave the details into dialogue and normal amounts of description with what are, very apparently, extremely well chosen words and refined sentences to strike just that perfect balance a historical reader is looking for.
I enjoy that the main character in the story, Le Fanu, is not a perfect creature. He’s no super hero, but a normal man with a realistic amount of weakness and strength. He has very real character flaws and is possessed of the same amount of indecision that one might expect anyone to have in complicated situations. Overall, really excellent writing style, and a compelling character to guide this interesting mystery set in a time period of significant political and religious unrest.