cover image The Shadows of Men

The Shadows of Men

Abir Mukherjee. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64313-744-5

Increasing tensions in 1923 colonial India provide the backdrop for Edgar finalist Mukherjee’s superb fifth mystery featuring Capt. Sam Wyndham and Det. Sgt. Surendranath Bannerjee of the Calcutta CID (after 2019’s Death in the East). Lord Taggart, the Calcutta commissioner of police, gives Bannerjee an assignment he’s required to keep secret, even from his friend Wyndham: keeping track of the movements and activities of Muslim politician Farid Gulmohamed. Taggart fears Gulmohamed may stoke unrest in Calcutta before the upcoming municipal elections, called by the British following Mahatma Gandhi’s incarceration. The surveillance mission goes awry, leaving Bannerjee suspected of murdering Prashant Mukherjee, a Hindu religious leader, after he was found near the corpse and took steps to conceal the homicide. Under these adverse conditions, the investigators must solve the crime while averting a cataclysm of ethnic violence should a Muslim be accused of committing it. The pacing and twists are among the author’s best work. This is a sterling example of a riveting whodunit plot coupled with a vivid portrayal of a seminal historical moment. Agent: Sam Copeland, Rogers, Coleridge & White (U.K.). (Nov.)