Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review of The Caretaker by A.X. Ahmad

I have really enjoyed this debut novel featuring a disgraced sikh named Ranjit living in Martha's Vineyard trying to make ends meet and do what's best for his family. While living in the house of his boss Congressman Neal, a duo of masked entruders break in looking for an antique doll. The contents of the doll is so important that Ranjit's family and life and are threatened until it's return. I really don't know where to start with this novel. It is very well-written. I could not tell that I was reading a debut novel (except maybe towards the end). It's evident that Ahmad was aware of pacing, character development, and believeable actions and reactions. The characters were well developed and the conversations between those characters were not forced or stilted.
Throughout the novel, Ranjit has flashbacks or dreams of his life in India. The life he led as a captain in India's military. These flashbacks happen frequently in the story but are used to tie in with the happenings of his present situations. Believe me, he gets into plenty of situations where the reader will be biting their nails wondering how he will escape. Luckily, Ranjit is a character that you hope will survive. Although he has flaws. He's damaged goods. It is because of his flaws and the hard life he has led that the reader will find him worthy of their sympathy. The last thing I will point out that I really enjoyed about this novel is that it touches subjects such as race, class, religion, perceptions, and social issues that some thriller/mysteries lack. The ensemble of characters are all people of color except maybe a few of the bad guys (which I admit is kinda cliche). Ahmad brings to the surface issues that some Indian immigrants have to deal with regarding prejudism or racism. Ahmad also allows Ranjit to have prejudices against the people he comes across. This helps with balance and proving no race is more superior than the other. We are all human and all have our flaws. Overall, this debut novel is written well and will be enjoyed by readers of thrillers, suspense, and mysteries. I really see a good character in Ranjit. He isn't perfect and that's why he should resonate with readers. Although the ending was wrapped up a little too perfectly and easily, I still look forward to reading what's next from this author. His writing can only get better.

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