Smoke and Ashes (Sam Wyndham)

Written by Abir Mukherjee
Review by Chiara Prezzavento

The Christmas of 1921 is approaching in Calcutta, and Captain Sam Wyndham of the Imperial Police Force could hardly care less. A shell-shocked war veteran, grieving widower, and opium addict, he has trouble enough keeping his career together under the worried scrutiny of his high-caste native aide and friend, Sergeant “Surrender-not” Banerjee. To make things worse, the city is rife with unrest, thanks to Gandhi’s independence movement and an impending (and ill-judged) visit by the Prince of Wales. Then, while visiting an opium den, Wyndham stumbles on an odd murder – that proves the first in a string of weirdly similar crimes. Torn between protecting the secret of his addiction and investigating, Wyndham will find himself racing against time as he clashes with the all-powerful secret Section H to uncover old and dangerous secrets. The third in a series, this is a clever whodunit, well served by smart writing, a dry-witted narrator, and a vividly recreated, rich, and colourful setting.