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!
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.
I read this book a while ago, just after the first book. This is the second book of The Lewis Trilogy, where ex Detective Inspector Finlay Macleod has now moved back to the womb, back to his native village of Crobost on the Isle of Lewis, one of the remotest of islands in the Outer Hebrides. I was going to write a little intro to the fact that there is so much that is part of this book apart from the discovery of a murdered man in a peat bog, but The Scotsman did it better, and I quote:
“like all the best crime fiction its interest is not restricted to the investigation.
It’s about the weight of the past, failed relationships, lives gone wrong and the ill-treatment of children. It may also be called a hymn in praise of the beauties of the islands and the miseries of their weather. There is a great deal of description of landscape and the elements, too much perhaps for some tastes, but you can always skim these paragraphs.”
However, I would judge you if you skimmed ‘those’ paragraphs. Scottish islands, most beautiful landscapes in the world. Anyway, the only DNA that matches that of the corpse’s turns out to be Tormod MacDonald’s, who turns out to be Marsaili’s father, who has advanced dementia. Marsaili, of course, is Fin’s love interest. In trying to prod through an ailing old man’s foggy memories, Fin finds out about the history of the island and its people. More and more people are intertwines in so many ways, like a giant spider web. And Fin finds himself right at the centre of it.
I really liked the character of George Dunn, who is on the island police force and helps Fin gather evidence even though it is against the law to give away information. It adds and element of dry humour to the book, very nicely done. Fin’s relationship with Marsaili and his new found son Fionnlagh also goes through some radical changes. More family is discovered and harder choices are made. Some very potent observations about organised religion as well there.
This book is just right as the second of a trilogy. The action is enough to bring some resolutions from the first book, but enough loose ends added as well so you have to have to read the last book! Like I said before, if you are into crime thrillers, tartan noir, handsome messed-up men, Scottish islands, go for it!
You might start to see a pattern here related to the Isle of Lewis. But I can assure you that it was pure chance that I mentioned The Guga Hunters to a friend and she had read something similar in this book. So I felt I should read it too. This is the first book of The Lewis Trilogy, where Detective Inspector Finlay Macleod of Leonard’s Land Police Station in Edinburgh (sigh!) faces the ghosts of his past as horrible murders and island histories unfold around him. He is pulled into a case when his island background is deemed advantageous. In any case, it is almost a full move for him as he leaves his wife of many years in Edinburgh. The death of their young child has forced them apart and our dark and brooding hero makes the long journey to one of the remotest of island in the Outer Hebrides. Practically the edge of the world, if you ask me.
This is a very good book. The pace is not very fast, no car chases, no gunmen, no drama. Just a careful unravelling of the close ties that knit an island community together. There are shared histories that follow every character around, and even if, like Fin, you had left years and years ago, you still got sucked into it as soon as you stepped back onto the island. There is more about the annual guga hunt. In fact, it has a bit with all of the details of how it is actually conducted. And eventually, it is here that the drama ends up, on this rock surrounded by the Atlantic – ruthless and relentless.
The resolution of events was a bit predictable. Or maybe that is the wrong word, let us just say that it did not surprise me. But there were plenty of elements on the way that did, and kept me hooked. Fin is very likeable, with his confusion and his good looks. He has been dominating my reading scene since, and I’m on the last part of the trilogy just now. If you are into crime thrillers, tartan noir, handsome messed-up men, Scottish islands, go for it!