WOW! What a fabulous and unique crime duo. The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. Why? Read on… my review is below the book description.
Award-winning crime novelist Abir Mukherjee is back with another brilliant mystery featuring police detective Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant Surrender-Not Banerjee, set in 1920s Calcutta.
When a Hindu theologian is found murdered in his home, the city is on the brink of all-out religious war. Can the officers of the Imperial Police Force—Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant “Surrender-Not” Banerjee—track down those responsible in time to stop a bloodbath?
Set at a time of heightened political tension, beginning in atmospheric Calcutta and taking the detectives all the way to bustling Bombay, the latest instalment in this remarkable series presents Wyndham and Banerjee with an unprecedented challenge. Will this be the case that finally drives them apart?
- ASIN : B08LW5CPH6
- Publisher : Pegasus Crime (November 11, 2021)
- Publication date : November 11, 2021
I was thrilled to be offered a copy of The Shadows of Men as I hadn’t read anything by this author before. Although this is book 5 in the series, it reads as a standalone and certainly didn’t undermine my reading experience in the least. Set in Raj-era India, you can bet your last rupee, this author is one of the best to bring historical details about colonial Calcutta to life.
We are thrust into the life of Sergeant Surendranath Banerjee, who takes us back to 1923 and the “eternal shroud of industrial smog” of Calcutta. In his humble way, he navigates British rule (gentlemen’s clubs and cricket grounds) and although some scenes of entitlement are cringe worthy, they are strikingly accurate for the period. There are so many descriptions I loved, not to mention internal monologue and observations which, at times, made me laugh out loud. For example: “How was I to explain to Lord Taggart that, while we all might look the same to him, a Hindu following Gulmohamed into the Muslim parts of town would stick out as much as he would at a meeting of the Women’s Institute.” To see life through his eyes was a privilege, and the author’s voice served to make me feel as if I was in safe and dependable hands.
The doggedly determined Captain Sam Wyndham, whose dry British wit and eternal optimism seems to drive him to the root of the problem. No matter what challenges he faces, you can’t help having complete faith in his skill. The pressures between upper and lower castes and Hindus and Muslims continues to escalate, and with Banerjee in a jam, Wyndham’s day just got worse. How will he ever reinstate Banerjee’s freedom? By putting himself in harm’s way to save his backside, that’s how.
The case takes him to Bombay and again, beautiful descriptions abound. I was treated to vivid characters; Miss Colah, Cyrus Irani, Cecily Parsons, and I particularly enjoyed the Englishmen armed with a drink and a cigar, “the brave men of the King’s Own Bombay Gin drinkers” — another dazzling display of brilliant writing. You can’t shy away from the haves and the have nots, the sheer opulence in contrast to the simplicity of everyone else. But crammed between these sweat inducing layers is the suspense, and I couldn’t read to the end fast enough.
Sam Wyndham and Surrender-not Banerjee are one of the most unique crime duos I’ve come across in a long time. I hope they will continue for many books to come. Many thanks to the author and to Harvill Secker, Vintage and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book.
Other books by this author: