Today I hand the blog back to Mandie. She is quite the fan of Abir Mukherjee’s Sam Wyndham series, so when we heard he was appearing at First Monday Crime in November, she jumped at the chance to review the book. Thanks to Joy Kluver and the First Monday team for inviting us to take part and to publisher, Harvill Secker, who provided the advance copy of the book for review. Here is what the book is all about:
About the Book
Calcutta police detective Captain Sam Wyndham and his quick-witted Indian Sergeant, Surrender-not Banerjee, are back for another rip-roaring adventure set in 1920s India.Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
1905, London. As a young constable, Sam Wyndham is on his usual East London beat when he comes across an old flame, Bessie Drummond, attacked in the streets. The next day, when Bessie is found brutally beaten in her own room, locked from the inside, Wyndham promises to get to the bottom of her murder. But the case will cost the young constable more than he ever imagined.
1922, India. Leaving Calcutta, Captain Sam Wyndham heads for the hills of Assam, to the ashram of a sainted monk where he hopes to conquer his opium addiction. But when he arrives, he sees a ghost from his life in London – a man thought to be long dead, a man Wyndham hoped he would never see again.
Wyndham knows he must call his friend and colleague Sergeant Banerjee for help. He is certain this figure from his past isn’t here by coincidence. He is here for revenge . . .
It’s no real secret that I am a big fan of the Sam Wyndham series as it combines two of my favourite things, murder and history, so when I was given the chance to read the latest instalment I did a little happy dance and I was torn between racing though it in the same way I had done the previous three books or savouring it, knowing that once I had read it, I would have to wait ages for the next one. Once I started reading it, that decision was taken out of my hands and I finished it within a couple of days, followed by the compulsory googling of certain historical events to find out more about them.
Death in the East is a little different from the previous books in the series, in so much as the story goes between London in 1905, when Sam was a new constable in the police force and India in 1922, when he is going through treatment for his opium addiction. Sam’s colleague, Sergeant Surendranath (Surender-not) Banerjee is not with him for this, but when a fellow member of the retreat is found dead in mysterious circumstances, Sam calls for his assistance.
Flitting between Sam’s past and his present gives just that little bit more of an insight into what makes him tick and shows that he has always had a dogged determination to get to the truth rather than taking the easy route to solving a case that was favoured by his superiors. With the mystery of how Bessie was murdered to solve his sense of doing what was right often saw him associating with some of the not so savoury characters of London. What was quite disheartening to see was that over time attitudes towards those we do not know or understand have not really changed. Immigrants and their way of life was feared, and that fear turned to hatred.
The story takes us to a different part of India that is more remote and, in some ways, more stuck in the ways of British rule and sense of entitlement, and not yet really touched by what was happening in other parts of the country. There is a definite shift in Surrender-not’s attitude towards the British and how he is treated by them. He has always taken the sly digs and being taken as a second-class citizen in his own country and his refusal to stop working with the British police even caused a rift with his own family. I think this change is partly due to the fact he has been put in charge of the investigation over Sam and partly to show the changes in India at that time. I for one really liked to see him standing up for himself more and being more assertive – even when he did go a tad overboard at times, which was a reaction to the way he was being dismissed by potential suspects.
For those of you who have survived to the bottom of what is possibly my longest ever review of a book my verdict is the following just in case you were in any doubt…. Death in the East is another absolutely brilliant book and you would be daft not to go out and buy it. For me the series just keeps getting better and better…. And if you haven’t got the first three in the series… why not as you don’t know what you are missing.
About the Author
Abir Mukherjee grew up in the west of Scotland. At the age of fifteen, his best friend made him read Gorky Park and he’s been a fan of crime fiction ever since. The child of immigrants from India, A Rising Man, his debut novel, was inspired by a desire to learn more about a crucial period in Anglo-Indian history that seems to have been almost forgotten. A Rising Man won the Harvill Secker/Daily Telegraph crime writing competition and became the first in a series starring Captain Sam Wyndham and ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee. It went on to win the CWA Historical Dagger and was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. Abir lives in London with his wife and two sons.
Abir Mukherjee will be appearing at First Monday Crime on Monday 4th November, 18:30 at London’s City University, alongside Alex North (The Whisper Man); Louise Candlish (Those People) and Victoria Selman (Snakes and Ladders). For further information and to book tickets for the event, visit the First Monday Crime website here.