Book Review: Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee

December 7, 2020 – Sarah Vohsen, Adult Services

This column was first published in the December 2020 issue of The Best Years (TBY).

Sam Wyndham believes “a policeman with an opium habit is like a long-distance runner with his laces tied together.” He knows that the moment he messes up he will lose his career. And the risk of this only grows when Sam learns that India’s Section H knows about his addiction. With the threat of his habit becoming a point of leverage, Sam has decided to get sober for the third time in this life. This time he seeks the help of Devraha Swami, a renowned sage in an ashram in Assam. However, just a few days into his treatment, another addict who looks somewhat like Sam is found dead. This leads Sam to believe that someone from his past might have been looking for revenge.

Abir Mukherjee’s Death in the East takes place during two different times in Sam Wyndham’s life. This story alternates between his time in East London in 1905 and his life in India 17 years later. In 1905, Sam was a young constable attempting to solve the attack and subsequent murder of his ex-lover. In India, he finds that his history is coming back to haunt him when familiar faces from that case in 1905 crop up and people end up dead.

Death in the East is the fourth book in Mukerjee’s Sam Wyndham series. This series is considered a collection of historical mysteries, and all of them follow a different section of Sam Wyndham’s life throughout his time in India. Although I read this book without reading its predecessors, I was neither lost nor confused by the content. I also enjoyed the writing style, which caught my attention for the first page.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mysteries or historical fiction, because the way Mukherjee blended these styles of writing together was captivating. If you like to read things in order, the first book of this series is A Rising Man, and in this story, Wyndham first arrives in India to start a new life but is immediately caught in a murder investigation. If you are looking for something similar, NoveList recommends The Soldier’s Curse by Meg Keneally. This story follows Hugh Monsarrat, who was a convict but is not a trusted clerk who must find a killer before his housekeeper friend is blamed for a murder she didn’t commit.


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