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Three and one half moon gifSt. Martin's Minotaur (Trade Paperback), ISBN 0312263104
It gives me great pleasure to reread M. M. Kaye's romantic suspense novels. Paging through this reprint of Kay's 1984 mystery Death in Kashmir, I got that nice feeling of discovering a book I once liked very much, but forgot. I remembered the plot kicker but little else. Would the book stand up to the test of time? Since I remembered a crucial plot point, would the book retain its suspense? The answer to both questions is "yes."

Book: M. M. Kaye, Death in KashmirThe story takes place after World War II, when England granted home rule to India. Shortly before the British army leaves the former colony, Sarah Parrish visits her aunt and uncle at her uncle's military post. Sarah sees her trip as a bittersweet farewell and welcomes the opportunity to vacation in Kashmir, which serves as a resort for the British. The province's vast mountain ranges offer skiing during the winter and respite from the terrible heat in the summer.

The first sentence sets the eerie tone of the book: "Afterwards Sarah could never be quite sure whether it was the moonlight or that soft, furtive sound that had awakened her."

On edge because of the tragic skiing death of fellow vacationer Hilda Matthews (whose room lay two doors away from hers), Sarah decides to investigate. She meets Janet Rushton, a very frightened spy for British intelligence. Hilda, Janet's superior officer, didn't die by accident. Someone murdered her. Hilda and Janet knew secrets vital to British intelligence. They requested help to get the secrets and themselves safely away, but help never came. Foreseeing her own death, Janet arranges to send these secrets to Sarah if the worst happens.

The worst happens, but it was an accident. Wasn't it?

Months later, while enjoying a carefree post-war lifestyle on an English military installation, Sarah receives a letter from Janet. The letter says Janet hid the desperately needed secrets on her houseboat in Kashmir. Handsome Captain Mallory watches Sarah set the letter aflame with his own lighter and vows to discover what could affect his spunky companion so profoundly.

I hope you enjoy this excellent tale set in a gracious, long gone world as much as I did.

Suzanne Frisbee

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