Just finished reading Terror in Topaz, the fourth in the Harriet Gordon series by A.M. Stuart. I’ve written about her other books, here, here and here. All three books were set in Singapore in the early twentieth century.
For this adventure, the author takes us away from Singapore and into Kuala Lumpur. Harriet, one of the main characters, does not like KL and neither did I. 🙂 Which just proves the author did a really good job of portraying this less than salubrious place.
As we’ve come to expect from Ms Stuart, the story is rich with local colour and a conviction that comes from the author’s own experience living in this part of the world. Harriet’s story takes place in 1910, during the period when the British Empire was at its height. So, not only do we have the heat and humidity and mosquitoes of the Far East, we have them while wearing Edwardian clothing and trying to maintain a proper English attitude. Kuala Lumpur, smaller and more insular than Singapore, is particularly hot and sticky.
The mystery plot of this story concerns an infamous brothel named The Topaz Club, but there is plenty of intrigue surrounding the “upper class” English establishment as well. Curran’s mission, to investigate the club, is not as straightforward as it might seem. He learns early in the book that there is no one he can trust — except Harriet, of course. The story leads both characters into dangerous situations and, finally, a fight for their lives.
There are quite a number of sub-plots as well — another love story, family betrayal, an unrelated murder, more murders . . . Oops, don’t want to give away too much.
Anyone who has followed the series knows that Harriet and Curran have had a long and complicated relationship. In this, book four, they finally declare their feelings. So, HEA? Maybe. I know the author is at work on a fifth instalment of the series and I doubt she’ll let our lovers have an easy road. At least, for now, the romance looks rosy.
If you love a little mystery in your romance, or a little romance in your mystery, I recommend Terror in Topaz.