Verdict: Violence and religion have been unfortunate companions in the history of humankind. THE CURSE OF AKBAR is a well-written, intelligent mystery combining both of these elements in a story of justice and human understanding.
Dalton Scott has dropped out. Once an aspiring academic at Oxford, he has been driven by personal tragedy to an Italian seaside village where he ferries tourists to the local sites. Unfortunately, the murder of his friend and former colleague in Oxford draws him back to reality. He finds himself on a chase across three continents to find both a murderer and the mysterious Text of Akbar that his friend was translating. Rumors about the text have caused an uproar in the academic community and someone is willing to kill to get possession of it. It is up to Dalton to find the document and the murderer without getting killed himself.
Troy Bond’s complex plot moves quickly from Italy to Oxford and then to India. Once there, Bond assembles a cast of academics, all suspects, in a scenario worthy of Agatha Christy. Each of them is believable and gradually reveals themselves as they are forced into close proximity in a maharaja’s castle. The chaos of rural India is at first stifling and somewhat grotesque but gradually both the people and the geography of the subcontinent transform into an exotic setting perfect for the backdrop for this mystery. As the academics argue the veracity of the document, the author presents Hindu, Christian and Moslem religious beliefs with sensitivity and without the usual misconceptions. This is perhaps the author’s greatest strength in that the history of two millennia of religious thought are set out in understandably in academic dialogs between the characters. The conclusion is well done, backtracking through Europe and finally to Florida where the text is “discovered” and a murder is unmasked. Even the most jaded mystery buff will be unable to foresee the ending.
Violence and religion have been unfortunate companions in the history of humankind. THE CURSE OF AKBAR is a well-written, intelligent mystery combining both of these elements in a story of justice and human understanding.
Reviewed by Ed Bennett for IndieReader.