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.
In 2018, I saw Abir Mukherjee speak on a panel at the EdBookFest. As a Scottish-Bengali myself, I remember making a mental note to read his stuff. And I finally got round to it. This novel is the 3rd in the Wyndham series, but they can all be read as standalone books.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Set in 1920s Calcutta, this novel follows the sleuthing of Sam Wyndham, an officer of the Empire and his sidekick ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee. While Wyndham battles an opium addiction, he gets embroiled in serial murders of a pattern. As India is poised on the brink of the Swadeshi movement, Wyndham and Banerjee must navigate political sensitivity and the machinations of the Raj to determine who the killer is.
The book is well researched to the point that a number of interesting plotpoints are woven into the story. There’s the opium trade, Subhash Chandra Bose’s rise in politics, the Christmas Day plot against the British – all of these make an appearance. But using these as hooks rather than the main basis of the story means that this is an easy read, perfect for the summer. The balance of detective thriller and historical fiction had me devouring this book in a matter of 2-3 days. I loved the interactions between the two protagonists that surpass cultural barriers, and also the description of the prime city of the Raj.
I will be reading the rest of the books in the series for sure (book 4 came out late last year). I can definitely say Mukherjee must have been wasted as an accountant because he’s clearly a crime writer. Highly recommend!
Growing up Bengali means a steady dose of Satyajit Ray in childhood. While I have devoured my share of Holmes books and Bond movies, there will always remain a special place in my heart for Feluda. I have read Ray in Bengali, and also in English, my favourite translations being those of Gopa Majumdar’s.
Apart from Feluda, I enjoyed his short stories and also his films. Shonar Kella is an amazing film for kids and adults. In many forms, Ray has touched upon my adulthood as well. I was pleased to discover his friendship with Audrey Hepburn, for example. And visiting Jaisalmer Fort brought the Kella to life too. I must watch Pikoo again (from Pikoo-r Diary).
A final mention too of Goopy Gyne, Bagha Byne – the brilliant political satire that remains relevant in this day and age. But also, perfectly watchable with children – who will love the surface level story involving the King of Ghosts and his magical powers. I loved this show I watched in Edinburgh last year, another strange way to come across Ray after so many years.
Happy Birthday to this legend!
I have been a fan of Robin Cook’s since I was 10-11 years old. I read Coma then, followed by Sphinx, and I was hooked. Over the following years, I have read every single one of his books. And it is only in the last five years or so, that I haven’t managed to read each one. So when I saw one of his latest at the library, I just had to have the copy. And I wasn’t disappointed.
What I love most about Cook’s writing is that it is so incredibly topical. For example, in this latest book, he talks about the myth that vaccinations cause autism (honestly, a separate post is warranted to deal with praying for natural selection to weed out such idiots). But themes like this are never a central one, instead, they are thrown in as part of the wider character arcs. The bureaucracy of running a hospital, the importance of reliance on donor and funds, the rise of the Chinese economy and how limited doctors tend to be is all brought to life.
The characters are the long time famous couple Jack and Laurie Montgomery, who readers have known for about 2 decades I think. And revisiting them is like revisiting family, when you know what someone is going to stay or do. That said, the supense part of the actual story itself felt slightly too far fetched. The build up to the climax was long and slow, and the climax itself was over rather quickly and simply. I was expecting a bit more difficulty as the protagonist tried to extricate himself from a sticky situation. A nice easy read for the long winter nights.
I picked up this book because I was travelling a lot and looking for something fast-paced but also not too taxing to read. This fit the bill perfectly in the form of a travel read. One of the first things that struck me about this book was the number of female characters in it. There’s the protagonist’s wife and ‘the other’ woman, but also the prosecuting and defence attorneys who are both women.
The novel follows the high profile case of a politician, James, who is accused of rape. It turns into a classic ‘her word against his’ type case where as soon as the trial starts, it is easy to see that all fingers are pointed at the victim. Case is reminiscent of the infamous Monica Lewinsky scandal which basically destroyed her life and career, but did almost nothing to Clinton. This, event though he was the perpetrator and should have been the more responsible adult.
But back to James, the book does a great job at portraying the ramifications of the trial on his marriage and his relationship with his wife. The prosecuting counsel Kate is our other powerful woman, who is convinced James is guilty and has a single-minded determination to end him and his career. What will happen of James? Will there be justice? And how will his marriage cope with it?
This is a really enjoyable read and I would recommend it if you are looking for something to get you through all your summer travels.
This book by Flynn Berry was a quick read. I picked it up because it was on a list with Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. The novel is about a girl who is about to go visit her sister, but when she gets there, finds her sister and her dog both brutally murdered. I enjoyed how the author had described the crime scene very graphically, I do like that in crime novels, it sets a strong scene.
Turns out, the sister Rachel had also been brutally attacked in the past (and nearly died) but the perpetrator was never caught. The book is then the protagonist’s attempts to find her sister’s killer. And in true, crime fiction style, there are cops with personal issues of their own. Rachel’s past begins to surface, and we find that not a lot of people knew many things about her and many suspects with strong motives begin to emerge.
Overall, the book did not impress me. I found the revelations from the past rather predictable (perhaps I have been reading too much in the genre)! I also found the ending rather bland. The initial excitement of the plot did not carry through and the repeat crime sub-plot quickly lost steam. So I’d give this one a miss if I were you, but it isn’t a very long read either way, so it was okay.
This book is the latest in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium) series. Of course, since the original author died suddenly, the farnchise has been picked up by David Lagercrantz. And I have to say, I am impressed by how well the new author has retained the ferocity and charm of the main protagonists Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. The storyline continues on from the previous book, and picks up with Salander’s latest circumstances in a women’s high security prison in Sweden.
Readers will come to love the old familiarity of well known characters. As Blomkvist continues to get involved, sometimes willingly, in Salander’s troubles, the plot thickens. This time, it is complete with the involvement of two other storylines, that eventually merge as Salander uncovers more horrific truths about her past.
The series is so well-written, I have always said, that when I finally visit Sweden, I will be sure to look over my shoulder nervously, as if crime awaits at every step. For now though, I have to content myself with nordic noir. I must add that now, I also see Lisbeth as Rooney Mara in my head, although Blomkvist isn’t quite Daniel Craig. Have you watched the movie? Have you read this series? I do recommend both, if you are a fan of fast-paced thrillers.
It seems to me like after the success of Gone Girl followed by The Girl on the Train, psychological thrillers are everywhere. Not a bad thing, I say, I have read a few this year and for the most part, really enjoyed them. In particular, I See You was particularly good. On a short trip, I picked up this one, which is about a mother’s relationship with his son girlfriend, who she doesn’t really approve of, but cannot quite put her finger on why, save for a mother’s intuition.
The plot is quite straightforward, and it preys on the stereotypical weaknesses of a mother – the inability to see any other woman take centre stage in her son’s life. The writing is goo, and Frances does a good jobs of setting up the characters backstories – I enjoyed that. However, I wouldn’t really call this book a psy thriller because it was a bit too predictable. It made me root for the good guy (woman) and it was quite evident who was being played. As the plot progressed, I knew what was going to happen and there were only a couple of surprises on the way.
As a passing read, this is okay. I also got it very cheap on the Kindle because I had a discount code. But if paying full price, I would probably give this one a miss for now. Having said that, the ratings on Goodreads are on the higher side, so my caveat is that it may have just been me!
Last year, I wrote about Americosis, and then again followed it up with vol 2 and vol 3. I nearly missed Vol 4, as I was away on holiday and although I knew it was going to come out around the time of the POTUS elections, it slipped my mind. Just as well, because I ended up reading it just as the new President got sworn in.
The characters in this book sort of pick up where they left off. As one would expect, this book goes heavier on the plot of Sanchez’s visions and the elections with him and Archer vying for votes. As this sub-plot takes centre stage, the mirroring of reality and fiction becomes clearer. The tension level is high, the drama is much more tightly knit. The Erica part of the plot is also getting less fluffy and more meaty, as she drifts between solving past mysteries only to come up against new ones. All in all, great writing.
What did jump put at me though, is that the language in this edition was a little too foul for my taste. Not that that is any different from reality and all the names that were thrown at Clinton and Trump, it made reading some of the chapter a little hard. Another very short read delivered by Wilks, and if you haven’t gotten into it yet, the four books back-to-back will take you only a couple of days to get through. I might do that, as I wait for vol 5!
A while ago, I came across a list that had names of books people who liked ‘Gone Girl’ might enjoy. I really enjoyed that book so this blurb caught my eye. I then picked it up at the airport in the summer this year at 4 am when I had a 4 hour wait, perfect. It was only when I saw the cover that I realised that the movie was about to come out this year as well.
Now, this book was really good to kill those four hrs and some time on the flight as well. It is fast paced, suitably written, and the plot is quite tight. I was, however, slightly disappointed at the end. Not because I had guessed anything by the way, but just the way the entire sequence of events unfolded. If you have seen the movie, you know the plot already, but I will not give away spoilers here.
My favourite part of the story line was the way the unreliable narrator theme was handles. It has been a while since I read a book which really made me uncomfortable as I just couldn’t trust what the narrator (in this case, the protagonist) was telling me. So definitely worth a read, also a pretty good movie, faithful to the book too, so also recommended.