Monday, April 15, 2024

Dark Clouds Over Nuala by Harriet Steel (The Inspector de Silva Mysteries) Book Two


Publication Date: 
May 22, 2017

216 pages

Set in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, in the 1930's, these charming mysteries are really unique. This is book two and I like to go in order so I will probably read and review that way. There are fourteen now with more on the way so this author has definitely found a formula that works. The stories center around native born Inspector Shanti de Silva and his British wife Jane who live in the quaint town of Nuala. Another place where murders and mysteries seem to happen quite frequently, Nuala is nevertheless a sleepy place full of good people. 

De Silva is called in to investigate the mysterious death of a lady linked to British royalty. No one knows why she decided to tumble off a cliff seemingly, to commit suicide. There is much doubt in that conclusion as the case unfolds. Was she sleepwalking? Or severely depressed and wanting to end it all? Add to the drama the uncomfortable aspect of De Silva's bosses, Archie Clutterbuck and William Petrie wanting to keep things as hush hush as possible as to avoid any possible embarrassment to the crown and de Silva is hard pressed to walk a delicate line investigating and being true to where the path follows. A mysterious Russian Count and his wife are involved in the scandal with a backstory of their own.

Along with the main mystery is the side story of the men working under de Silva's charge. Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar are young men who are dealing with their own struggles while trying to balance their work lives. De Silva is caring and patient, treating them almost as the children he and Jane do not have. When Prasanna becomes infatuated with a village girl, Kuveni, the de Silvas work to make an impossible dream a reality. 

My Thoughts:
The story unfolds very slowly. A couple of times I was distracted enough to think about skimming but I stuck with it a bit longer and was glad I did. As with book one, the author takes her time setting the scene, the colorful life in the area, and building the case with lots of detours and additional suspects. I appreciate the balance between a little bit of darkness, followed by humor and the warm interactions between the Inspector and his wife. The twists along the way were sufficient enough to keep me guessing and the last minute reveal was unexpected. You won't find many books like this one so it is a series I will definitely keep up with if I can.


  1. A murder mystery with a unique setting. Thanks for your review. I will check if our library has any of this series. I’ve been listening to the first few books in the William Monk series that have been free on Spotify thanks to your recommendation. 😊

    1. That makes me so glad Carol! I hope you like them. Yes, these Nuala books are not as detailed as Anne Perry but are good for a quick read. Let me know which William Monk books you like. They are so good and really immerse you in the time period :)

  2. The setting is what appeals to me about this book!

    Thanks for sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.