Inspector de Silva novels set in colonial-era Nuwara Eliya put Sri Lanka on the detective thriller map!


When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves to the fictional Sri Lanka town of Nuala he finds an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances.

Nuala is based on the colonial-era hill country retreat of Nuwara Eliya in pre-independence Ceylon of the 1930s, as told by acclaimed thriller writer Harriet Steel.

Her Inspector de Sliva series has been compared with the legendary detective whodunits of Agatha Christie, the British creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.


Here, Steel writes for TripFiction, a website that matches locations with books and features novels set in over 1,500 countries, regions, and cities from around the world.

She writes: “The Pearl of the Indian Ocean, the Cinnamon Isle—whatever name you choose, Sri Lanka is wonderful and I fell in love with it when I holidayed there in 2016.

“When I saw the hill country where the tea grows, I realised I’d found my setting for The Inspector de Silva Mysteries.”


Nuwara Eliya, the model for the fictional town of Nuala, “is a little piece of England but interpreted with Sri Lankan flair”.

She sets the action in the 1930s, when the island was still the British colony of Ceylon, “because colonialism raised issues that provide an extra layer of interest”.

During that first visit to Sri Lanka she found a perfect location for Trouble in Nuala—the nearby Horton Plains “where you can follow Inspector de Silva’s footsteps through the cloud forest to the precipice at World’s End” (pictured above).

Read more here.

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