Indian culture adds spice to Bharti Kirchner’s new Seattle mystery series

With “Season of Sacrifice,” Seattle author Bharti Kirchner launches a new series of mystery novels about a Seattle-based private investigator. She will make three appearances in Seattle, including Sept. 20 at Elliott Bay Book Co.

“Season of Sacrifice”

by Bharti Kirchner

Severn House Publishers, 213 pp., $28.99

With her new “Season of Sacrifice,” Seattle author Bharti Kirchner launches a new series of mystery novels about an intrepid, Seattle-based private investigator named Maya Mallick. And her opening scene is a real zinger: two white-robed women set themselves on fire in front of the house occupied by the visiting Chinese foreign minister in Seattle’s Green Lake district. Maya, a horrified witness to these suicides, is even more distraught to learn that one of the dead is the sister of a close friend.

What (or who) could drive these two young women to such ghastly deaths? Is it political conviction — a protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet — or something more? Maya is determined to find out. A former nutrition consultant, she has just opened a Seattle branch of an India-based, all-women detective agency called Detectives Unlimited.

As she makes her initial inquiries, Maya has the uneasy sense of being shadowed; a mysterious blue sedan haunts the periphery of her activities. She meets several characters — some of them bizarre, others benevolent or potentially dangerous — and encounters a former boyfriend whose earlier decision to end their relationship still hurts. Adding to her hurt is the discovery that her ex, a policeman, has a child who was probably conceived during his time together with Maya.

Author appearances

Bharti Kirchner

The author of “Season of Sacrifice” will appear at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., Seattle (206-624-6600 or elliottbaybook.com); 7 p.m. Oct. 10, University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., Seattle (800-335-7323 or bookstore.washington.edu); and

7 p.m. Oct. 12, Noir at the Bar, Sorrento Hotel, 900 Madison St., Seattle (206-622-6400 or bhartikirchner.com).

Both of the self-immolators, it turns out, have ties to a potential breakthrough in malaria research: one is a scientist, the other a successful clinical tester of her groundbreaking vaccine. Then there’s a third self-sacrifice, one that Maya witnesses and tries in vain to stop….

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