Here’s what the blurb says: “Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatize to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj. A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues – arrogant Inspector Digby and British-educated, but Indian-born Sergeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID – embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.”
Set against the rich tapestry of Calcutta in 1919, this debut novel is a feast for the mind and the senses.
War hero and ex-Scotland Yard detective, Captain Sam Wyndham has gone to India to escape Britain, not because of the rain as is his usual reason given, but because he is disillusioned with his country and, since the deaths of his family and his beloved wife, there is nothing left there for him. He’s also fighting a few demons of his own.
His first case as head of the CID in Calcutta begins with the investigation into the murder of a burra sahib (a senior British government administrator). But despite his experience, the political posturing, cultural differences and the attitude of some of his own countrymen towards the local people are causes of frustration and delay for Captain Wyndham. His Sergeant, Surendranath “Surrender-not” Banerjee is one of the first Indian police detectives, and plays an essential role in helping Captain Wyndham navigate his newly adopted home, but there are places not open to him because of his nationality – and this is something that Captain Wyndham is not prepared to accept.
Wyndham and Banerjee make for a great double act as they follow the scant evidence, and pursue leads with dogged determination. As the investigation unfolds, and he gets help and hindrance from a variety of sources, Wyndham discovers not only more about the city that he now calls home, but also how danger can lurk within it in the most unexpected places.
A stunning debut novel; atmospheric, compelling, and with a strong heartbeat of social justice, A RISING MAN is a great read and a fabulous start to the Captain Sam Wyndham series.
To find out more about Abir follow him on Twitter @radiomukhers
Also check out Abir’s guest post on the CTG blog earlier this week, where he talks about his lead character – Captain Sam Wyndham – here