I’m delighted to host a stop on Abir Mukherjee’s A Rising Man Blog Tour. Abir is the winner of the Telegraph Harvill Secker Crime Writing Competition. A Rising Man is his debut novel and is out later this week on May 5th.
Here’s the blurb: “1919. Calcutta. Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatize to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj. A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues – arrogant Inspector Digby and British-educated, but Indian-born Sergeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID – embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.”
Today, Abir Mukherjee is dropping by to tell us a bit more about Captain Sam Wyndham. Over to Abir …
Sam is an ex-Scotland Yard detective and veteran of the First World War who’s been scarred by his experiences and finds himself in Calcutta looking for a fresh start.
Life’s not exactly done him many favours. His mother died when he young and he was packed off to a boarding school in the middle of nowhere, which he was forced to leave when the money ran out. From there he pretty much fell into becoming a policeman, a job which, fortuitously, he’s rather good at. He’s quickly promoted from a beat copper to CID and then to Special Branch. The coming of the war derails his career and in 1915, he enlists in the army, mainly to impress the girl he loves into marrying him.
After a year of sitting in a trench and being shot at, his superiors realise that his talents could be put to better use and he’s transferred to Military Intelligence. He’s wounded close to war’s end and is shipped home, recovering in time to find that his wife has died in an influenza epidemic.
Scarred by his experiences, and because there’s nothing left for him in England, he accepts the offer of a job with the Imperial Police Force in Calcutta.
Like anyone else, Sam’s a product of his experiences. He’s always been an outsider, but what he saw during the Great War – the carnage, the futility and the ineptitude of those in authority – has left him cynical. He likes to think he sees the world for what it is, rather than blindly swallowing other people’s preconceptions and prejudices, and in this sense, he is a man of the modern age, and a man with a conscience. But I don’t think he’s as ‘modern’ as he likes to think he is. In truth, his unwillingness to accept what he’s told is as much down to his general stubbornness and distrust of authority as it is to any sense of open-mindedness, and despite his protestations to the contrary, I think there are certain racial taboos he’s not willing to break.
He has a rather dark, gallows sense of humour, which colours much of his outlook on life, and I think this is a reaction to what he’s been through. The war and the death of his wife have destroyed his faith in a god, and he’s come to see the world as a cruel and arbitrary place where any search for meaning or justice is absurd and ultimately futile. If he has a philosophy, it would be similar to Kierkegaard, not that Sam would ever have read any of the man’s work.
Finally, I think Sam’s come to India to find something. He doesn’t know what it is, and I don’t know if he’ll ever find it, but it’ll be an interesting to see where it goes and I’m looking forward to the journey.
Big thanks to Abir Mukherjee for making the CTG blog a stop along his A RISING MAN Blog Tour, and for dropping by to tell us more about his lead character – Captain Sam Wyndham – from A RISING MAN. It’s a fabulous book, and you can catch my review of it here on Saturday.
A RISING MAN is out this week on May 5th. You can buy it from Waterstones here or Amazon here.
To find out more about Abir follow him on Twitter @radiomukhers
And don’t forget to check out all these fab tour stops …