Today Mandie shares her thoughts on Smoke and Ashes, book three in the Captain Sam Wyndham series by Abi Mukherjee. Mandie is a huge fan of the series and you can read her reviews of the other books, A Rising Man, A Necessary Evil, and Death in the East if you’d like to take a look and see just how much! Here’s that this book is all about.
About the Book
India, 1921. Captain Sam Wyndham is battling a serious addiction to opium that he must keep secret from his superiors in the Calcutta police force.Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
But Wyndham finds himself in a tight spot when he stumbles across a corpse in an opium den. When he then comes across a second body bearing the same injuries, Wyndham is convinced that there’s a deranged killer on the loose.
However, revealing his presence in the opium den could cost him his career.
As Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee set out to solve the two murders, Wyndham must tread carefully, keeping his personal demons secret, before someone else turns up dead…
Now if you have been brave enough to read any of my other reviews for the books in the Sam Wyndham series you might get the idea I am a little bit of a fan ( I may have all the books in every available format). That being said it has taken me ages to get round to writing the review for this the third book in the series (that’s because I am lousy at writing reviews, having read the book over Christmas last year) but as book four is now out in publication I thought it was about time that I let you know what I thought of Smoke and Ashes.
Set at the end of 1921, India is changing, and the British do not have quite the control they once had, and it shows. Sam is becoming more drawn into his opium addiction and it is getting harder to hide it from those in authority. When an opium den is raided while he is there, he manages to escape but comes across a body of a murdered man. Later he is called to investigate the murder of a nurse that bears the same MO as the man he had seen. As more murders occur Sam is left trying to find the connection. Once again, he is assisted by Sergeant Banerjee, who himself is battling personal conflict as his family are supportive of the movement to take back control of India, so working for the Imperial Police force does not sit well with them.
What I love most about these books is that the author has a way of describing a different time and place that really gives the reader a sense of India under British rule. There is no bias for or against either side as he shows the good and the bad of that era. Whilst the main character is heavily flawed and haunted by many demons, he still goes above and beyond in his investigations, sometimes, in an attempt to compensate for his personal shortcomings. His friendship with Surrender-Not is also changing. With the pressure from his family and also the constant need to protect Sam from both himself and their bosses, he is often torn between his beliefs, his duty and his friend. In reality theirs is a friendship that goes against everything both in rank in the force and station in life based on their birth and the awkwardness that shows bears testament to this.
The premise for this the latest in the series is actually based on true events that occurred, although a little later in history and that I think is what I find the most intriguing and disturbing in equal measure but is also part of the reason why I am such a big fan of the author and his writing. History has always been a big thing for me but there is only so much you will learn in school.
Through this series I have been given a whole new area of the past to google and investigate whilst also being able to indulge in my love of crime fiction. Even if you think that historical fiction is not your thing, you really should give this series a go as I don’t think you would be disappointed.
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.