A Necessary Evil … a review

This book is the second in the Wyndham-Banerjee series of crime novels set in British India. I chanced upon one of the 4 books and so I have not been reading these in order. Also, the library seems to have very few copies of each of the 4 books and so I couldn’t line them up properly. But that’s no issue because the books can be read standalone.

I must confess, I am now an Abir Mukherjee fan. First of all, the setting of the books is unique. Our lead DI Wyndham is of the Imperial Police force in Calcutta, the second-city of the British empire. His sidekick is local policeman Surendranath Banerjee, appropriated as ‘Surrender-Not’. Their combination is brilliant and nuanced, as Wyndham would be lost without Banerjee’s local knowledge. Second, in this book, we travel to Sambalpore in Orissa at the murder of its prince. As a Scottish-Bengali like Mukherjee himself, who grew up in Orissa, the references to local folklore and customs was too close for me (and I loved it)!

Third, every DI has a darker side; and Wyndham is no exception. As he battles wuth the trauma of his past, his need for love, and his addiction, many shades of his character are revealed. He reminds me of Perez from the Shetland series, and I really like his character. Finally, the cast is varied and interesting. There are Brits, princes, kings and eunuchs – and all of them have a very specific part to play in this novel to uncover the plot behind the Sambalpori prince’s murder. A fine book, a very enjoyable read.

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