20 November 2017

Review: A NECESSARY EVIL, Abir Mukherjee

  • format: kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2122 KB
  • Print Length: 380 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1911215132
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (June 1, 2017)
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2017
  • Sold by: PRH UK
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01K6RP0MO
Synopsis (Amazon)

India, 1920. Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force investigate the dramatic assassination of a Maharajah's son.

The fabulously wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore is home to tigers, elephants, diamond mines and the beautiful Palace of the Sun. But when the heir to the throne is assassinated in the presence of Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant 'Surrender-Not' Banerjee, they discover a kingdom riven with suppressed conflict. Prince Adhir was a moderniser whose attitudes - and romantic relationship - may have upset the more religious elements of his country, while his brother – now in line to the throne – appears to be a feckless playboy.

As Wyndham and Banerjee desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules and those who cross their paths pay with their lives. They must find a murderer, before the murderer finds them…

My Take

Not much time has elapsed since the first book of this series. In the background is the unrest generated by the Indian independence movement. To assuage the growing clamour for Home Rule, the British government in India has come up with the idea of an Indian House of Lords called the Chamber of Princes. All the native princes are being invited to join, and it is important that the wealthiest did so. The Maharajah of Sambalpore, even though the state is amongst the smallest, is billed as among the wealthiest princes. His eldest son Crown Prince Adhir went to school with Sergeant Banerjee and has requested a meeting with him in Calcutta. Adhir is against joining the Chamber of Princes. He has also received some threatening letters, which ironically he can't read as they are in local script. On their way back to their hotel the prince is assassinated.

Having set the scene in Calcutta in 1920, the novel really makes very little use of the political turmoil of the time. Instead Wyndham and Banerjee become embroiled in local politics in Sambalpore, chasing down the person behind the prince's assassination.

The novel provides an interesting depiction of the contrast between the old way of life and the new. The Maharajah and his court behave as if there is no threat to their way of life or their social status. In some ways the novel is a police procedural but Wyndham and Banerjee tread a fine line between what the British Raj wants to do, and what it can achieve without upseting local protocols.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read 4.4, A RISING MAN

1 comment:

Janet Rudolph said...

Just finished the first in the series, so thanks for the review of #2. Looking forward to it!


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