Monday 22 January 2018

Graphic murder mystery with an Indonesian flavour

Fiction: The Bone Ritual, Julian Lees, Constable, €18.00

The Bone Ritual by Julian Lees
The Bone Ritual by Julian Lees

Breda Brown

This latest novel from Hong Kong-born Julian Lees is the first in a new crime series to feature Ruud Pujasumarta, an inspector in the Indonesian police force. Already dealing with a disastrous personal life, he is tasked with finding out who is behind the gruesome deaths of a number of women in Jakarta. In each case, the killer has strangled the victim, amputated their left hand and placed a mahjong tile, a piece used in Chinese games, in her throat.

Meanwhile, Imke Sneijder, a childhood friend of Ruud, returns to Jakarta. The pair get closer and Imke, along with her police-trained dog Kiki, helps Ruud with the investigation.

Initially quite slow, the plot revs up significantly in the last third of the book and hurtles towards a conclusion that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

Lee's striking descriptive writing transports you directly to the streets of Jakarta with wonderful accounts of Indonesian food, chaotic traffic, exquisite architecture and the gaping contrast between life in the seedy over-populated slums and the more affluent suburbs.

As the story bounces between Jakarta and Amsterdam, we also get a magnificent insight into life in the Dutch capital and the many connections between the two locations.

If you haven't visited either city, reading this will make you want to book a flight right now.

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