The Glass Thief (2019) by Gigi Pandian

“As the clock struck midnight two days before Christmas, and dim rays of moonlight shone through the stained-glass windows of the old mansion, the Delacroix family’s prized Serpent King sculpture vanished and prodigal son Luc was murdered – for the second time that day.”

Historian Jaya Jones’ favourite author has finally surfaced after years of seclusion and has started writing his latest Gabriela Glass novel, written, apparently in Jaya’s honour. It soon becomes clear this is far more than a work of fiction – the murders in the book were mirrored in real life in Paris, three deaths spanning seventy years.

As Jaya is sent parts of the book, chapter by chapter, it seems there is far more to this than a grateful author. Someone seems to be luring Jaya into a trap – someone who is willing to kill to get what they want.

So, after the fun set of short stories that I read recently featuring Jaya and other characters from the series, The Cambodian Curse, I thought it was time to try one of the novels in the series. I plumped for the latest, The Glass Thief, as I thought the setting sounded suitably Carr-ian – a man is strangled by a ghost and then is promptly murdered again.

This is an easy read with a reasonably large group of recurring characters. I’ll be honest, I wish I’d started at the beginning as some of the characters aren’t there for a lot of page time and I felt that I’d missed something concerning the relationships. Some of the personal plot beats later in the book didn’t land as hard with me as they should as I didn’t know the history well enough. The plot takes a little while to gain momentum, but once certain revelations are made, it moves forward with a nice pace, with some clever twists. One in particular, concerning a false assumption that the reader will almost certainly make, and then feel embarrassed that they made it, is extremely clever.

The impossible murder – well, if you’ve read too many impossible crimes, the trick will be familiar, although there is a good wrong method – but for a mystery with a small number of suspects, Gigi Pandian does very good work springing some surprises.

Classifying this book is tricky – there are elements of the adventure genre about it, but there is also a proper mystery, which I suppose places it into the US cozy genre, but it’s much better than most of what I’ve read of those titles. Overall, an enjoyable read and I’ll be back for more at some point.

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