This expat world of petty jealousies, boredom and violence is well drawn. When the local bigwig, Ronald Carter, is found dead, Sam calls on his friend Sergeant “Surrender-not” Banerjee to help. Carter’s death is a classic locked-room puzzle. The crime element is tautly plotted and ingenious, but Mukherjee’s books transcend the genre, giving us an intelligent portrait of imperial India. Sam, with his wry sense of humour, is sympathetic, despite having the prejudices of an Englishman of his time. Death in the East is the best so far of an unmissable series.
This is a well enough done, middle market novel. It rolls along at a jolly rate, and part of the reason for that is that you rarely trip over a word. There are many clichés, and many repetitions (white-suited being the most irritating), and the prose doesn’t get in the way. Some may think that a virtue. I prefer to be surprised. The first page of the first chapter has “grim resolve”, “forgotten backwater”, “hallowed tones”, “wasn’t much to pin one’s hopes on”, “a drowning man will clutch at a straw” and “temporary respite”. The reason the eyes glide so quickly across this fluid and readable novel is that often we already know what is coming next in the sentence