Friday, August 18, 2023

The Malabar Hotel Mystery: An Ellie Blaine 1920's Mystery (Book Six) by E.M. Bolton


Publication Date: March 27, 2023

Length: 181 pages

I am always looking for mysteries or historical fiction set in India, preferably prior to WW II. I find the setting exotic and fascinating and I love to see differences in British and Indian culture depicted. So this cover, title, location was one mystery I wanted to try. I knew going in it was short and probably wouldn't have time to delve deeply into more than a cute mystery but since I've joined the cozy mystery reading challenge it fit the bill. I'm having a very busy week starting school so short books are very welcome right now! This is book six and I haven't read anything else in this series but it's the only one set in India so I tried it first. 

Ellie Blaine is worried about her friend and love interest Dr. Richard Lindley. He is missing in Cochin, India and she has left England to go and search for him. She knows it is not like him to have quit writing her and is sure he has met with foul play. When she arrives, her suspicions are confirmed by what she finds in his hotel room. His watch, a gift from Ellie is found among his belongings, and as he promised her he'd never remove it, she feels certain this, along with mysteriously unfinished letters detailing a supposed crime he was involved in, are odd clues that point to something sinister befalling him. 

As she talks with hotel staff and his hospital colleagues, Ellie is unsure who is being candid and who is possibly withholding information. Her friend Georgie arrives, and having worked on previous cases with her before, begins to search with Ellie. The two women encounter some perilous situations which are designed to throw them off the trail, but stick to their intuition and continue. Is Richard guilty? Did he leave on his own? Or is there more to the story?

The first half of the book was the best. Descriptions of the city and its surroundings looked promising and I liked the way the characters spoke to each other, the dialogue sounding a lot like an old movie. Hoping the culture and atmosphere would continue throughout the book I kept going and I also thought the mystery would intensify and become more involved. Unfortunately, I found that about a third of the way through things started to fade out. It began to feel like a book that could have taken place almost anywhere at anytime. It was as if the author forgot it is supposed to be a historical mystery set in another country during another time. The mystery part was just okay, but not terribly exciting. 

This book felt somewhat amateurish and being so short at less than 200 pages, it rambled more than it should have. By the time the resolution happened I'd already figured out the gist of it so the excitement just wasn't there. Some cozy mysteries have that extra thing that makes them cute and also contain a little depth. This one just didn't have enough there to make me care about Ellie and Georgie. It had a good premise but didn't deliver. Maybe the other books are better and they take place back in England. I'm not sure if I'll read another one but I am always willing to try an author twice just to be sure.


  1. It's too bad that this one wasn't a winner, I like historical mysteries - especially in that time period.

  2. I too enjoy an Indian setting!

    Thanks for sharing your review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge!