Sunday, March 22, 2015

Artifact - Gigi Pandian

Okay, I've already spent more time trying to move a photo of the book jacket to this site than I spent reading the book.  I read this on my Kindle and there's no point in taking a photo of the jacket reproduced in black and white on my very basic but satisfactory Kindle.

Les Blatt over at Classic Mysteries wrote a review of this book a short time ago.  It's not a classic mystery in the sense of having been written in the Golden Age of Mysteries, but it follows the classic mystery formula.  It's a new mystery, a bit breezy at times, but it moves along at a nice pace and is set mostly in the dramatic and atmospheric Highlands of Scotland.

Jaya Jones is a graduate student in California, studying trade routes and the British East India Company.  She's of Indian descent but has lived in the US most of her life.  Her best friend is Sanjay, a magician (The Hindi Houdini) and bad sitar player.  She plays tabla and they often play together at a local Indian restaurant.

Jaya receives a package from Rupert Chadwick, her short, dark, and handsome ex-boyfriend, a British archeologist.  It contains a large, old gold and ruby piece of jewelry.  Odd, because she's just read a newspaper article about Rupert's death in a car accident in the UK.  There's a note asking her to keep it for him, to call him, and telling her that she's the only one he can trust.  But she can't reach him.

She takes a photo of the bracelet to a professor at her college to see if he can identify it, but he brushes her off to another graduate student, the tall, blond, and handsome Lane Peters.  He's interested in the jewelry and says he'll try to help identify it by looking for it in Indian art.  They eventually go to Scotland together to see what they can find out at the dig where they think Rupert found it.  They want to find out what a valuable old piece of Indian jewelry is doing in Scotland.  And   to find out if Rupert's accident was really an accident.

There are several twists and surprises before all is revealed.  Jaya is a bit goofy at times.  She seems devoted to wearing high heels, probably because she's barely 5' tall.  They're often the wrong shoes for the wrong place  -  like climbing down a cliff.  There's a lot about Scottish legend and Indian history mixed in with a nice mystery and some nail biting chases and escapes.

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