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Saturday 17 September 2011

Children of the Plantation by Faith Helen Mortimer

Having read Faith's The Assassins' Village which I thoroughly enjoyed, I was very keen to acquaint myself with another work by her.  This did not disappoint. 

Diana (a prominent author and newly pregnant) and Steve go on holiday to Malaysia where Diana spent time as a child.  The owner (Miss Chalcot) of the hotel in which they are staying, is an admirer of Diana's work and asks her if she would kindly sift through some diaries and papers to gather information on some particular family events that occurred in the 50s and 60s, in this very hotel, to write a book with a view to 'putting right' some questionable details.  Diana however, has some innate sleuthing skills and uncovers more than Miss Chalcot expected.

The story is told mostly via the diaries.  I do not know if Faith herself actually spent time in Malaysia – but her knowledge and/or research into this country's history of the last 60 or 70 years is impeccable and provides a well-informed backdrop to the story.  The story is perfectly conceived and you are never ahead of Diana as she unfolds the mysteries of the wealthy Chalcot family.  All the characters are well portrayed and very credible;  there are teenagers with new and raw emotions, parents who are mismatched and distant, charismatic local members of the family's staff and Diana and Steve are an amiable, likeable couple whose affection for each other is evident without being 'schmaltzy'.

Faith is certainly making her mark as a 'mystery' writer and I see Diana becoming the next 'Miss Marple', with her congenial husband Steve as her sidekick!

Diana and Steve are two characters featured in The Assassins' Village - reading it is not a prerequisite; Children is not a sequel.  It stands alone perfectly and is just as enjoyable.

Well done, Faith, you have delighted your readers once again.

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