Monday, July 15, 2019

Mystery of the Emerald Buddha

Mystery of the Emerald Buddha (1974) by Betty Cavanna is the second of her novels that I have read and it is the second to feature smuggling of a sort. This time the action takes place in Thailand during a father's working trip to photograph an ancient palace that will be featured in a forthcoming book. There are also hopes of including pictures of the famous Emerald Buddha, a closely-guarded treasure housed in the palace. In fact, that Emerald Buddha is stolen while they are at the palace and they find themselves in lock-down while the authorities try to sort things out.

Lisette is a teen-aged young woman who is spending a month or so with the father whom she has rarely seen since her parents divorced when she was very young. She has grown up in France and has led a very protected life. Lisette doesn't quite know how to react to this stranger who is her father and she's rather alarmed to discover that as soon as she arrives in America (disconcerting enough for someone who's never traveled before) that she will be going to other side of the world.

When they arrive at Bangkok, she finds herself thrown into a culture unlike anything she's encountered before. Surprisingly, after a bit of culture shock, she begins to open up and change--so much so that she wonders what her mother would say if she knew. Before the story is over, she will make friends with a hippy, learn from the strong female professor who is her dad's collaborator and love interest, help discover an art smuggler, and ultimately deduce the hiding place of the missing Buddha. She is definitely not the same person she was when they arrived.

When the Buddha is stolen, Don--Lisette's new friend--and the hippies he is camping with are suspects. During the visitation hours for the palace, some of the young men staged a major disturbance with the worst of the group climbing up a parapet, desecrating the sacred area, and then falling to his death. It is suspected that at best they might have been paid to create havoc and distract from the theft or at worst that some of them are responsible for the theft itself. Lisette doesn't want to believe that Don was a part of any wrongdoing and uses the time that they are detained in the palace to think about all the available clues. She discovers the solution just in time to impress the king of Thailand. 

Betty Cavanna provides another decent teen-aged mystery with a fascinating backdrop. Descriptions of the Thailand in the 1970s were very interesting and she manages to convey tidbits about the culture without it feeling like info-dumps. The mystery isn't terribly intricate, but it does make for a pleasant quick read. ★★

One mystery never solved for me: Why was Lisette spending such an extended period of time with her father after NOT doing so for so many years? I thought at first we'd be told that her mother had died or something, but that's not the case. Cavanna never does explain why Lisette's over-protective maman  would allow her to spend so much time away from home.

Silver: When--during a trip/holiday
Calendar of Crime: April --Religion place major role
Deaths = one--fell from height
[Finished on 6/29/19]

No comments: