I received a review copy of this title from NetGalley. Thank you to NetGalley and Henery Press!
Are you a grad student wanting to unwind from hours devoted to serious academic research? If so, this light and entertaining mystery is tailor-made for you.
Jaya Jones is an associate professor of history, hoping to gain tenure at a San Francisco college. But she gets distracted from work on her latest paper when a stranger arrives, asking her for help researching a century-old treasure map. The document may have been drawn up by her great-granduncle Anand, a character whose revolutionary politics and emigration to America during the Gold Rush have become a family legend.
What historian could resist an offer like that? It's fascinating to find out more about family history, and possibly make a significant historical discovery along the way! But Jaya soon realizes she may have gotten in over her head, when a body is found by the police, and suspicion begins to fall on Jaya herself...
There are a few infodump-y parts where the writing feels a little inexperienced - but overall, the story moves along at a good pace, and I found the characters engaging and entertaining. Jaya's Indian-American heritage (which I believe the author shares) adds flavor to the story in an organic way. As a librarian and archivist myself, Tamarind the punk librarian was simply awesome, and I also loved the depiction of the archivist in India. Especially the part where they suspect him of having sold letters from the archive, and his response is "What do you think of me? The archives must not leave the property." Of course not! You can take bribes, lie to researchers... but you maintain the integrity of the archive!
This is the second in the Jaya Jones series, but it works perfectly well as a stand-alone.