Professor Brian Stoddart is an international consultant who works mainly on higher education reform in Asia and the Middle East, and is currently Distinguished Fellow of the Australia India Institute based at the University of Melbourne. He trained as a South Asianist then also became an international authority on sport and culture. His academic career was spent in Australia, Malaysia, Canada and Barbados, and he finished his formal career with a term as Vice-Chancellor and President at La Trobe University in Australia. In addition to his formal work he is a regular contributor to regular and new media as a columnist and commentator.
In the third instalment of the Le Fanu Mystery series, the intrepid superintendent is promoted to Inspector-General of Police in 1920s Madras, which proves to be more boring than he had envisaged. Instead of pushing papers across his desk, Le Fanu focuses on the disappearance of a senior Indian Civil Service officer and an apparently unrelated murder. As the two incidents intertwine, the world weary detective is drawn into the worlds of indentured labor recruitment and antiquities theft.. But as bureaucratic politics make his position vulnerable, his superiors send the intrepid policeman across the Bay of Bengal to pursue the cases in the Straits Settlements. Le Fanu immediately becomes embroiled in the activities of secret societies and the British colonial intelligence services. The appearance of a mysterious Chinese woman renders his professional life uncertain as he wonders anew about the British imperial future.