book cover of A Disappearance in Fiji
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A Disappearance in Fiji

(2023)
A novel by

 
 
A charming and atmospheric debut mystery featuring a 25-year-old Indian police sergeant investigating a missing persons case in colonial Fiji

1914, Fiji: Akal Singh, 25, would rather be anywhere but this tropical paradise—or, as he calls it, “this godforsaken island.” After a promising start to his police career in Hong Kong, Akal has been sent to Fiji as punishment for a humiliating professional mistake. Lonely and grumpy, Akal plods through his work and dreams of getting back to Hong Kong or his native India.

When an indentured Indian woman goes missing from a sugarcane plantation and Fiji’s newspapers scream “kidnapping,” the inspector-general reluctantly assigns Akal the case. Akal, eager to achieve redemption, agrees—but soon finds himself far more invested than he could have expected.

Now not only is he investigating a disappearance, but also confronting the brutal realities of the indentured workers’ existence and the racism of the British colonizers in Fiji—along with his own thorny notions of personhood and caste. Early interrogations of the white plantation owners, Indian indentured laborers, and native Fijians yield only one conclusion: there is far more to this case than meets the eye.

Nilima Rao’s sparkling debut mystery offers an unflinching look at the evils of colonialism, even as it brims with wit, vibrant characters, and fascinating historical detail.

Genre: Historical Mystery

Praise for this book

"A marvelous debut that beautifully paints life in a part of the world that few of us have a chance to visit. The highlight of Nilima Rao's well-crafted novel set in Fiji in the days of British colonial rule is the collision of cultures and class and how one man is charged with the task of unlocking the mysteries they create. A pleasure to read." - Colin Cotterill

"This is an utterly charming novel. The setting is exotic and the characters are intriguing. Nilima Rao is an author well worth discovering." - Alexander McCall Smith

"Meet Sergeant Akal Singh, the complex and charming hero of a thoroughly original mystery set in 1914 Fiji. Fans of Golden Age mysteries will relish this debut novel by a compelling new talent, Nilima Rao. More, please!" - Sujata Massey

"A gripping, authentic and brilliantly told mystery story that brings to life colonial era Fiji with a wealth of intriguing characters and underlying tensions. I have found a new favorite mystery series!" - A M Stuart

"A poignant and entertaining read . . . Sergeant Akal Singh is a charmingly imperfect and captivating protagonist. I love Akal and hope we'll be seeing a lot more of him!" - Ovidia Yu


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