Set in India, A Very Private Enterprise opens with the murder of Hugo Fencham, a British civil servant. George Sinclair is called in from London to investigate. What ensues is very much a traditional whodunit. Sinclair interviews the various characters, checks out Fencham’s dwelling, uncovers a secret stash of gold, meets a pretty young Tibetan scholar. In the first 100 pages, there’s really no sense of impending danger. Just lots of questions, mainly related to the overarching questions: Who killed Fencham, and why?
The trouble with whodunits is that they require interesting characters or very good writing to hold my interest. Ironside’s writing is fine—some of the descriptions are very vivid, but it’s generally merely serviceable. The characters are the real problem here. They’re just not interesting, and there are too many of them to keep track of.
It’s entirely possible that I’m the problem here, but after 100 pages, I still felt like only three characters had enough personality to stand out from the others, which meant I couldn’t get into the book. At 155 pages, nearly halfway in, I’m giving up. Wrong book, wrong time.