Calcutta, 1837. Young Ensign William Avery is tasked by his employers – the East India Company – to track down disgraced agent Xavier Mountstuart, lost to the jungle. Forced to take with him dissolute, disillusioned, errant genius ex-officer Jeremiah Blake, Avery is sure their mission is doomed. When their search leads them into Kali-worshipping, Thugee territory, survival depends upon trust. Fighting for their lives, the pair close in to their elusive quarry only to discover the horrifying truth behind their mission. With death and danger on all sides, is it too late to save themselves?
*Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Those who know me or are following my reviews will be probably very surprised to see I read/reviewed this book. Despite reading the odd mystery now and then, ‘The Strangler Vine’ seemed like something I would never read. However, don’t you just love it when life and book surprise you? Oh, how I love those surprises! ‘The Strangler Vine’ has to be one of the best researched and most gripping reads I’ve had the chance to check this year.
I’m not an expert on Indian history, however this book made me go back in 19th century, digging as much possibly on the time when a land as grand and exotic as India was ruled by the East India Company. Xavier Mounstuart, a famous author, goes missing and William Avery and Jeremiah Blake are given the task to find him. While being one of the most talented authors, Mountstuart seems also to be a bit of threat to the Company. The two men who are sent to find him, are so different as characters, and I truly found fascinating the way the author portrayed them, emphasizing their differences. These very differences made the book more interesting and their journey very exciting.
Are they going to find the famous writer or is he murdered by the Thugs, the murderous sect of Kali-worshipers?
I will admit, the beginning of the book felt a bit slow (thus the 8/10 rating), but please, don’t be discouraged by this from reading further. The book gets more and more interesting, revealing many facts about the Indian culture and tradition, something I found really fascinating.
I heard there’s a sequel coming up in 2015 and I’m more than excited to read it. This book was indeed one of the best surprises this year.
My rating: 8/10
About The Author
M. J. Carter is a former journalist and the author of two acclaimed works of non-fiction:Anthony Blunt: His Livesand The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One. M. J. Carter is married with two sons and lives in London.