Lucky me, I just returned from a trip to India. And I didn’t even have to leave my house to travel. I just read “The Shadows of Men”, the fifth in the Sam Wyndham series of books by British author Abir Mukhergee. Set in 1920’s Calcutta, this series features Sam Wyndham, a Brit working for the an organisation in the Raj. He’s aided in his work by Sargeant Surendernath Banergee, with whom he shares a house in the red-light district of Calcutta.
Sam and “Surrender” have been involved in many interesting cases over the five books they’ve featured in. Author Mukhergee blends the times of the early 1920’s with the problems of Raj-ruled India. The ongoing struggle between Hindus and Moslems is often highlighted with the British who rule the country acting as friction drivers between the two groups.
In “Shadows of Men”, the two men are asked to look into the rising trouble in Calcutta between Hindus and Moslems. A scholar has been murdered and much of the city is rioting. Surrender finds the murdered scholar and is blamed for the murder. In an attempt to clear his name, he joins Sam on a trip to Bombay, where try to track down the real perpetrators of the initial crime. They are aided by a wealthy women in each city, who contribute money, cars, and man power to the frantic men. As with most mysteries, most of the periferal characters aren’t who they appear to be but that adds to the fun. The ending of the book is as it should be. It’s a great character study between the two men, Surrender and Sam.
All good historical novels teach as well as entertain the reader. I have learned many things about India from Mukhergee’s writing. It’s really made me want to visit India, for real.