Peril at the Exposition by Nev March Peril at the Exposition by Nev March
Series: Captain Jim Agnihotri #2
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 12, 2022
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 351
Format: eARC
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two-half-stars

Captain Jim Agnihotri and his new bride, Diana Framji, return in Nev March's Peril at the Exposition, the follow up to March's award-winning, Edgar finalist debut, Murder in Old Bombay.

1893: Newlyweds Captain Jim Agnihotri and Diana Framji are settling into their new home in Boston, Massachusetts, having fled the strict social rules of British Bombay. It's a different life than what they left behind, but theirs is no ordinary marriage: Jim, now a detective at the Dupree Agency, is teaching Diana the art of deduction he’s learned from his idol, Sherlock Holmes.

Everyone is talking about the preparations for the World's Fair in Chicago: the grandeur, the speculation, the trickery. Captain Jim will experience it first-hand: he's being sent to Chicago to investigate the murder of a man named Thomas Grewe. As Jim probes the underbelly of Chicago’s docks, warehouses, and taverns, he discovers deep social unrest and some deadly ambitions.

When Jim goes missing, young Diana must venture to Chicago's treacherous streets to learn what happened. But who can she trust, when a single misstep could mean disaster?

Award-winning author Nev March mesmerized readers with her Edgar finalist debut, Murder in Old Bombay. Now, in Peril at the Exposition, she wields her craft against the glittering landscape of the Gilded Age with spectacular results.

One of the strengths of Murder in Old Bombay, the first in the series, was the setting, 1890s India. In Peril at the Exposition, Chicago and the World’s Fair are richly drawn and vividly described, but didn’t have quite the same draw for me. It made sense for Diana and Jim to emigrate to America, but it lost some of the charm of the first. This book, told mostly from Diana’s point of view, does give us her memories of places and people in India, but at times they feel forced.

Jim, now working as a private investigator, is missing in Chicago. Diana heads off to find him. Diana is determined and strong in her own way, but definitely in over her head. She can be melodramatic and puts herself and others in dangerous situations. As Diana digs deeper into the case Jim was working on, she realizes there’s a plot involving anarchists, labor union disputes, and maybe a bomb. There are a lot of characters of all social classes with various motives and the mystery is convoluted. Honestly, I finished this a few days ago and can’t quite remember the ending, aside from Jim and Diana saving the city – which I’m sure is not a spoiler.

About Nev March

Author Nev March is the recent winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Award for Best First Crime Fiction.

After a long career in business analysis, in 2015 she returned to her passion, writing fiction, and now teaches creative writing at Rutgers-Osher Institute. A Parsee Zoroastrian herself, she lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons. Murder in Old Bombay is her debut novel.

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