I read this for the 4-Mystery Addicts reading group – I’m trying to alternate between fiction and nonfiction right now because reading too much about the unfolding current events gets quite draining even though I’m fascinated.
A Rising Man
by Abir Mukherjee
2017/ 390 pages
read by Malk Williams 11h 36m
rating B- / historical crime
(1st in Sam Wyndham series)
It’s 1920 and after surviving the trauma of WWI, went home to England where his wife died from the Spanish Flu. After a short time Sam got the opportunity to go to Calcutta as an investigator – which suited his new opium habit just fine.
Just as he arrives there is a murder. Alex-ander MacCauley, a high official in the British colonial establishment, is found outside a brothel – murdered – and with a threatening handwritten note in his mouth. The threat is that there will be wide-spread rebellion to the English occupation if they don’t leave. Windham has to find those responsible for the murder and hopefully prevent the rebellion before it’s too late.
Basically this is a police procedural set in the historically fascinating city of Calcutta, India in late colonial times. Windham is pretty typical of fictional police detectives the world over these days – the vet of a war, single for some reason, and with a serious drug or drink habit. Nevertheless, he’s a good guy – sympathetic Even Windham’s co-worker (not quite partner, but not side-kick) Surendranath (aka “Surrender-not”) Banerjee has counterparts in other crime novels. (One of the best is in the book Detective Emmanuel Cooper series by Malla Nunn [link to my review], which has the South African Samuel Shabala, a Zulu tribesman and local constable paired with Afrikaner Emmanuel Cooper in the days of apartheid – or maybe see the Scandi-Noir novels of Jussi Adler-Olsen.
The plot(s) are good and a bit twisted. There are some good lines of humor every once in awhile. The writing is nice, smooth. The characters are pretty stock though – imo.
Why the “B-“? Most reviewers have been very favorably impressed but … maybe I just wasn’t in the mood or maybe the narrator didn’t suit me or perhaps I’m familiar enough with the general history, who knows? It didn’t work for me. It wasn’t awful – it was just never very interesting.
(But now maybe I’ll get on with another current events novel – or maybe not.)