[Review] 'A Rising Man' by Abir Mukherjee

Abir Mukherjee’s debut whodunnit, 'A Rising Man' features former Scotland Yard detective Captain Sam Wyndham, a First World War survivor with painful memories who arrives in Calcutta in 1919 to join the local police force.
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Before he has had a chance to settle into his new surroundings, job and home, he is tasked with solving the gruesome murder of Alexander MacAuley, a senior British official. His lifeless body was discovered in a dark and muddy alley outside a brothel, with his throat slit and a message of revolt in his mouth. Then there's a botched train robbery. Are these troublesome events connected?

Wyndham and his assistant Indian Sergeant 'Surrender-not' Banerjee go on a frantic search for the killer. His superiors are adamant that terrorists were to blame for the murder, but Wyndham has his doubts. When Wyndham bravely manages to capture the long-sought terrorist Sen (think: Gandhi), everybody seems only too willing to put the blame on Sen.

The writing of Mukherjee is assured and he can certainly put a smile on your face with his mischievous sense of humour. The plot is rich in detail, lightly clued and the narrative is very good. You'll like the characters and I'm uncertain as to what the title, 'A Rising Man' was actually supposed to mean. Yes, Sam Wyndham was wounded physically and mentally in the trenches of the battlefields in Flanders in the First World War en he seems to be getting a second chance in 1919's India. But his assistant Indian Sergeant 'Surrender-not' also seems a candidate for the 'man on the rise'.

In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by 'A Rising Man' and will certainly get hold of the second, 'A Necessary Evil' and the third, 'Smoke and Ashes'.

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