The Best Book I Read This Month: A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

The best book I read in September was A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee. I started it during my lunch break on a Monday. By the end of my lunch hour, I wanted to call in sick for the rest of the day so that I could keep reading.


Set in Calcutta in 1919, A Rising Man centers around policeman Sam Wyndham, a World War I veteran newly arrived from London, as he acclimates to his new home and attempts to solve the murder of a high-ranking colonial official. He faces the dual tasks of deciphering the culture of colonial India and navigating competing powers within the British government. His partner in crime, so to speak, is a local,  "Surrender Not" Banerjee.

What struck me first--what enthralled me from the get-go--was Mukherjee's descriptions of Calcutta. I could not only see it, I could hear and feel it too.

Then I was drawn in to the two main characters, each challenged in his own way. Wyndham, for example, is an opiate addict--the result of injuries from his war years. He struggles to manage his cravings while simultaneously wishing for the oblivion of a high. Banerjee is caught between cultures--not entirely trusted by the British police because he is Indian and disowned by his family for working in/with the colonial government.

The solution to the mystery could have used a few more seeds planted throughout the story, but I will definitely be reading the next book in this new series, if only so I can spend more time with Wyndham and Banerjee.