It’s unusual to read a taut historical crime fiction thriller that also interrogates the Imperial legacy. Mukherjee, never heavy-handed with his research, is wise to have chosen a protagonist who is more sympathetic to the 'native' side than most, but whose perspective is necessarily British — it allows you a view into both worlds, that of the Indian nationalist setting up bonfires of foreign cloth, and that of the Englishman seeing the inevitable unfold as the colonies slip from the grasp of Empire ... The flaws in Smoke and Ashes are minor. Those familiar with Indian history of that period will find Surendranath Banerjee’s name a little jarring ... But these do not detract from the many thrills of following Captain Sam Wyndham and Bannerjee through 1920s Calcutta.
In Wyndham and Bannerjee, Mukherjee has created two appealing characters presenting different factions of the whole that is India, revealing what each gives up to serve king and country, and answers the question of which country each actually serves ... An interesting story, with two remarkable characters, which will make the reader seek out the other novels in this series while asking for more.
Riveting ... Mukherjee has a substantive grasp of colonial Indian history, and his books have the feel of a modern-day and much more progressive Kipling, full of high intrigue and derring-do, yet overlaid with the day-to-day reality of a struggle with addiction.
There has been a burning fire of anticipation for the third adventure of Captain Sam Wyndham in colonial Calcutta ... Questions have often been asked about whether Wyndham is a little too enlightened towards the plight of the native population for an educated British man of his time...Recently Mukherjee addressed this, saying Wyndham is a man out of his time so as to avoid the traits we don’t want to see in a protagonist ... What makes these books rise above many others to acclaim is how Mukherjee tells the compelling story of this neglected and fascinating period of Anglo-British history in a cracking rollercoaster style with wit and credibility.
The response to the three Raj-set novels of Abir Mukherjee has been one of unalloyed praise, not least for the fact that these exuberant narratives are so nuanced in their treatment of that era ... As in previous books, it is the flamboyant evocation of 1920s Calcutta that makes this such a mesmerising read.
Mukherjee makes the most of his setting, 1921 Calcutta, in his superior third mystery featuring the all-too-human Capt. Sam Wyndham, of the British Imperial Police, and his Indian assistant, Sgt. 'Surrender-Not' Banerjee ... Mukherjee, who only gets better and better with each book, has established himself as a leading historical mystery writer.