Friday, 17 June 2016

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

A very enjoyable detective thriller, set in the India of the Raj.  Captain Sam Wyndham finds himself thrown in the deep end when he arrives to take up his new position with the Calcutta Police.  He finds himself fighting not only crime but also prejudice and corruption, and perhaps for his life, as he investigates the murder of a high-ranking British civil servant.  The case is not straightforward, and neither is determining the social rules in this new country.  There is humour and wry observation in the telling of this tense and very enjoyable story and I am so glad to hear that there will be more cases for Captain Wyndham and Sergeant "Surrender-not" Bannerjee - I'll be looking forward to reading their next adventure.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly MacMillan

I was enthralled by this book, which I borrowed from the library.  Any parent would read this and think, there but for the grace...  Being set in a very recognisable Bristol was engaging, because I could picture the settings so clearly in my mind.  It cannot have been easy to write this story from the point of view of Rachel (mother to the missing Benedict) and Jim (the police detective leading the investigation), both vulnerable people who are doing the best job they can to cope with life.  Both were well drawn characters, multi-faceted and believable.  The question of what had happened to Ben, was he still alive and the urgency to solve the case for a positive outcome was central, but also how Rachel came to be seen and portrayed by the media and the public.  It brought to mind the case of poor, murdered Joanna Yeates and the media trial of her innocent landlord, Christopher Jefferies,and, inevitably, that of disappeared Madeleine McCann.  However, Gilly MacMillan's novel stands alone as a terrifyingly possible scenario and possible abductors and their motives are revealed by the investigation.  The discovery of the actual perpetrator is chilling, and we are forced to ask just who can we trust.  The trauma of these events are felt as acutely by the police as those closest to the victim, and the book sensitively explores this issue.  Well worth reading.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Bones of Grace by Tahmina Anam

An unusual, glorious tale of love, mystery, tragedy and adventure: a search for identity and meaning, and a rite of passage.  I loved the lyrical writing and the complex plot, set in the contrasting worlds of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Bangladesh.  Zubaida is an engaging heroine, seeking fulfilment through career (as a paleontologist) and relationships, and also seeking her roots, her place in the world, peace and grace,  This story also had me searching on the internet for the Glass Flowers of Harvard museum - well worth investigating and I would now love to see them.  This book, as exquisitely crafted as the flowers,  swept me up and delighted me.  Where we come from may shape us, but in the end we must take responsibility for our own destiny.