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!
I enjoyed reading The Lewis Trilogy greatly. And so I picked up this book, quite pleased that it was a standalone read. It is a long book, and so it was good that it was one-off. I was not wishing to be caught up in a long saga-like tale just now, as I have a lot of TBR on my plate. Anyway, this book is about our protagonist and police detective Sime (pronounced Sh-ee-m) who is sent to Entry Island because, like the islanders, her speaks English. Other islands in the area are part of the Qubecois Canada and so, speak French.
A man has been murdered and suspicion falls on his wife, Kirsty, who has no other alibi and has enough reason to want to kill her husband. But from the very first meeting, Sime wants to believe her. And strangely, feels that he knows her, even though both of them agree that they have definitely never met before.
Also part of the police team on the island is Sime’s ex-wife Marie-Ange, and when was that ever a good thing!? Caught in between these two women, one of whom might be a murderer, Sime goes through bouts of insomnia. Interspersed with the scenes in his dreams are scenes from his ancestor’s diary, which he has started reading.
Personally, I loved the ancestor’s story. It begins in the highlands of Scotland, centuries ago. The backdrop is the potato famine followed by the highland clearances. And as always, a poor farmer’s boy in love with the landowner’s daughter… I had not read much of either of those bits of Scottish history and so I really enjoyed reading about them. Well, no so much enjoyed as be distressed by, but you know what I mean.
Overall, I thought this book wasn’t as riveting as the earlier trilogy, but the interspersed stories, dream sequences, evil ex-wife, I enjoyed this book a lot!