The Lost Taonga, Edmund Bohan

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

THE LOST TAONGA and A SUITABLE TIME FOR VENGEANCE by Edmund Bohan were both entered in the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards, with THE LOST TAONGA making it onto the longlist. Both these books are from Bohan's Inspector O'Rorke series (six and seven respectively), historical crime fiction set in New Zealand in the 1880's. Bohan's is known in his native land as an accomplished biographer and novelist, and singer, having published a range of historical non-fiction as well.

Needless to say in both these novels, the historical aspects are delivered in a comprehensive manner, delivering something that feels very real, and accurate without being too bogged down in detail - very much on the show don't tell side of the equation. The plots are great - exploring aspects of the past from the souveniring of precious artefacts in THE LOST TAONGA through to the impact of boyhood pasts, and politics of the time period. 

Interestingly in THE LOST TAONGA the hero of the piece (Inspector O'Rorke) doesn't make an appearance until a considerable way through the book, and the second book almost reads as a standalone, which actually makes both of these feasible as entry points to the series if you've not read the earlier books.

Definitely a series for fans of historical mystery's, these are well written, well researched and very well balanced between the detail and pace.

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Their Taonga: Ngai Tahu’s ancient and sacred treasure. Everybody covets it. When it is stolen, the ancestors start wreaking havoc. The curse destroys people’s lives. Boats are overturned, babies die at birth, throats are slit. It must be returned to appease the ancestors. It has drawn Countess Margarita Szechnyi and Boyland the Collector, otherwise known as the Butcher of Warsaw, together into a web of murder, intrigue, love and deceit. Inspector O’Rorke is pushed into the case, along with his good friend Colonel Henry Jamieson and Henare Greaves as they attempt to return the Taonga to its rightful place. Starting in the secret caves of Murihiku in New Zealand’s South Island in 1883, then travelling to South America, on to London, then over to the Greek Isles, this book keeps the reader intrigued right through to the gripping climax. This is the sixth in Edmund Bohan’s gripping series of Inspector O’Rorke novels.

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