17 March 2016

Review: A RISING MAN, Abir Mukherjee

  •  source: ARC provided by Random House UK through NetGalley
  • Publication date 5 May 2016
  • The winner of the Harvill Secker/Daily Telegraph crime writing competition 2014 
Synopsis (Random House Australia)

Calcutta, 1919. Captain Sam Wyndham, a former Scotland Yard detective new to India, is confronted with a highly charged case: a senior British official has been found murdered, in his mouth a note warning the British to quit India, or else...

Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatise to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj.

A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues – arrogant Inspector Digby and British-educated, but Indian-born Sergeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID – embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.

The start of an atmospheric and enticing new historical crime series.

My Take

Captain Sam Wyndham finds himself embroiled in a murder investigation almost immediately upon his arrival in Calcutta. He finds himself at odds with the security force directed by the Lieutenant Governor. The dead official is part of the L-G's team, and Wyndham feels that they want to sweep everything under the carpet rather than investigate properly.

Tensions run high in the British Raj in 1919. White people receive preferred treatment while the Indian native population are treat as inferiors, despite their qualifications. So the novel provides interesting insights into colonialism. During the novel the Amritsar Massacre takes place and tensions are very much heightened.

One of the tasks Wyndham has been charged with is to root out corruption in the Calcutta Police Force and so he is not even sure who he can trust. A Mail train is held up but nothing is taken although a railway employee is battered to death. So what were they looking for? Were the attackers insurgents?

A complex plot, well handled, with enough historical details to provide authenticity. Wyndham and his sergeant Surrender-not Banajee make an interesting sleuthing duo.

My rating: 4.5
About the author
Abir Mukherjee was born in London, but grew up in the West of Scotland. Married, with two small children, he now lives in London and has spent the last twenty years working in finance. A Rising Man is his first novel and the first in a new series starring Captain Sam Wyndham and ‘Surrender-Not' Banerjee.


Terra Hangen said...

I will look for this novel, I like books set in 1919 or so India, and a mystery thrown in makes this interesting.

Margot Kinberg said...

Both the time period and the setting interesting me here, Kerrie. Thanks. I shall have to check this out.


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