My Review of Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee

Captain Sam Wyndham and his sidekick Surrender-Not Banerjee return in this prize-winning historical crime series set in 1920s Calcutta.

India, 1921. Haunted by his memories of World War I, Captain Sam Wyndham is battling a serious addiction to opium that he must keep secret from his superiors in the Calcutta police force.

When Sam is summoned to investigate a grisly murder, he is stunned at the sight of the body: he’s seen this before. Last night, in a drug addled haze, he stumbled across a corpse with the same ritualistic injuries. It seems like there’s a deranged killer on the loose. Unfortunately for Sam, the corpse was in an opium den—and revealing his presence there could cost him his career.

With the aid of his quick-witted Indian Sergeant, Surrender-Not Banerjee, Sam must try to solve the two murders, all the while keeping his personal demons secret, before somebody else turns up dead.

This is the third in the Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant Suren ‘Surrender-not’ Bannerjee books, and so far it’s my favourite!

The story starts out with an action packed chase over the rooftops of Calcutta, involving Wyndham, a badly mutilated body and a raid on an Opium Den! It’s the best opening sequence so far in the series, Abir Mukherjee is the master of setting the scene, his detailed and descriptive prose pulls the reader in, and in Smoke and Ashes, never lets you go!

I’ve really only started to read Historical Crime Thrillers this year and I am SO glad I was recommended this series. It is now without a doubt one of my favourites. The characters of both Wyndham and Bannerjee are now fully rounded, and what started as a British Captain and an Indian Sergeant, working at arms length, has progressed to a great friendship, and with the narrative impeccably written surrounding them, the setting of Calcutta in the 1920’s, the fight for Indian Independance and the diminishing days of British Rule, Smoke and Ashes is chock full of thrills, Political Intrigue, Indian History and Wyndham’s personal struggles from fighting in the trenches of WW1.

There’s some hilarious moments that can now be enjoyed between Sam Wyndham and the ever quick witted Suren Bannerjee, and it’s easy to see that the author loves these two men, as much as I do.

As usual no spoilers here, but suffice to say, if you like Thrills interspersed with Indian History (and plots BASED around Indian History) and fantastic writing that makes you feel like you are actually there, in India, in the 1920’s, then look no further than Abir Mukherjee’s outstanding series of books.

I really couldn’t put this one down, the best so far. I am straight onto Book 4, Death In The East!

A 5 Star Read ( if I could give Smoke and Ashes 50 stars it wouldn’t be enough!)

Abir Mukherjee is the Times bestselling author of the Sam Wyndham series of crime novels set in Raj era India. His debut, A Rising Man, won the CWA Endeavour Dagger for best historical crime novel of 2017 and was shortlisted for the MWA Edgar for best novel. His second novel, A Necessary Evil, won the Wilbur Smith Award for Adventure Writing and was a Zoe Ball Book Club pick. His third novel, Smoke and Ashes, was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 Best Crime & Thriller Novels since 1945. Abir grew up in Scotland and now lives in London with his wife and two sons.

You can find Abir Mukherjee’s website here