- Book: Smoke and Ashes
- Location: Kolkata (Calcutta)
- Author: Abir Mukherjee
I actually read this novel whilst in India and it proved to be a great choice, it gave me a real sense of the echoes of footsteps past, with a little history of the start of the Congress Party and Ghandi.
Smoke and Ashes is no.3 in the Sam Wyndham murder mystery series, set firmly in Raj era India. Captain Wyndham has an opium habit and one evening, as he is smoking in a dive, there is a police raid and it really wouldn’t be fitting for him – as a policeman – to be caught there. As he makes his escape he discovers the body of a male, seemingly a Chinaman, his eyes gouged out, with a couple of stab wounds to the chest.
At police headquarters there is no mention of the corpse and he wonders whether he in fact imagined seeing it in his befuddled state. When another murder victim turns up, with very similar wounds, he is clear that there is a connection.
The pressure is on as the Prince of Wales is due to visit on Christmas Day and in the background the police and military are having to address Ghandi’s newly formed Congress Party who are on the verge of bringing the city to a grinding halt through peaceful protest.
The author beautifully weaves together the various strands that all come together to create a colourful and oftentimes humorous portrayal of the era. A good read!
If you ever get the opportunity to meet Abir at an author event, then do make sure to take the opportunity. I very much enjoyed his talk with Dr Noir (of Newcastle Noir) at Forum Books in Corbridge. He is entertaining, erudite and thoughtful. And I am looking forward to reading no.4 in the series (Death in the East).
Can be read as a standalone.