Smoke and Ashes

Smoke and Ashes

Abir Mukherjee
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
This book is a detective thriller, a genre which I read widely, from Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham to Ian Rankin. It’s by an author new to me, but the book came highly recommended by the lady in Waterstones, and as it was for holiday reading I decided to give it a chance. I am very glad that I did!

It’s set in India in 1921, a time where the world is readjusting to the new political situation after the Great War, and where Mahatma Gandhi has started to ramp up the campaign for India to be Independent of the British Empire. The protagonist, a Great War Veteran, is now working in the Calcutta Police Force, and battling with an opium addiction that would get him sacked from his job if it were discovered.

The story starts when he finds a corpse, during his escape from a raid on an opium den. The dilemma of reporting it or not is just one of the psychological elements of the book. When a second body is found with the same injuries, he realises that he has to become involved, and the story proceeds at a fast and twisty pace as he and his Sergeant chase the killer, helped (or otherwise) by the police hierarchy, against a background of growing threatened violence by protesters.

It’s an interesting book, giving insights into the people and events of the time, as well as a good thriller, with a twist in the tail. I would recommend it for a jolly good read. I will be looking out for this author’s other books.

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