A gripping, evocative thriller about a disgraced Sikh Indian Army captain who works as the caretaker for a U.S. Senator's Martha's Vineyard estate, and becomes ensnared in the Senator's shadowy world.
Ranjit Singh, a former Indian Army Captain trying to escape a shameful past, now lives on Martha's Vineyard, and works as a caretaker for the vacation homes of the rich and powerful. One harsh winter, Ranjit needs a place to stay, and illegally moves his family into an empty, luxurious vacation home belonging to an African-American Senator. Ensconced in the house, he tries to forget his brief affair with Anna, the Senator's wife, and focuses on providing for his family. But one night, their idyll is shattered when mysterious armed men break into the house, searching for an antique porcelain doll.
Forced to flee, Ranjit is hunted by unknown forces, and becomes drawn into the Senator's shadowy world. To save his family and solve the mystery of the doll, he must join forces with Anna, who has her own dark secrets. As he battles to save his family, Ranjit's painful past resurfaces, and he must finally confront the hidden event that destroyed his Army career - and forced him to leave India.
Tightly plotted, action-packed, smart and surprisingly moving, The Caretaker takes us from the desperate world of migrant workers to the elite African-American community of Martha's Vineyard, and a secret high-altitude war between India and Pakistan.
"Ahmad debuts with a fast-paced literary thriller, shifting action from the desolate ice-clad Siachen glacier separating India and Pakistan to the posh environs of Martha's Vineyard ... Top-notch effort in the first of a promising trilogy." - Kirkus
"Poignant.... A finely textured story of bravery and knavery." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. This fine thriller debut views disturbing political realism through the lens of Ranjit Singh, a newly immigrated Sikh fleeing danger in India after a politically explosive mistake ends his military career...a cynically smart political thriller that draws parallels of political expediency between Washington deal-brokering and Ranjit's tragic past. Beyond the masterfully crafted, high-adrenaline story, readers will be fascinated by Ranjit's strong Sikh faith, rarely seen in American fiction." - Booklist
"Starred Review. Combinations of the familiar and the unfamiliar provide a read that moves beyond standard thriller fare. Weaving together Singh's Sikh faith with very personal moments, taut action sequences, and events with international significance, Ahmad's thriller should have broad appeal." - Library Journal
"Told with propulsive narrative drive, The Caretaker weaves a compelling story, beguiling characters, and two exotic locales- India and Martha's Vineyard- into a suspenseful whole. A wonderful debut." - Richard North Patterson, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"The Caretaker isn't just a solid thriller, it's a wonderful novel about clashing cultures and painful histories, held together by Ahmad's crisp writing and his wonderful character of Ranjit Singh. Shades of Martiz Cruz Smith here, and echoes of Graham Greene. Bravo, A. X.Ahmad." - T. Jefferson Parker, author of The Jaguar and The Border Lords
"Though A. X. Ahmad's The Caretaker is a tightly wound thriller, it is equally concerned with themes of insiders and outsiders, race, culture and class. From protagonist Ranjit Singh, a Sikh who once held a position of status in the Indian Army and is now a disgraced, reluctant refuge in the US, to the African American Senator who came up from poverty to become a powerful and influential leader, to the Senator's wife, from a family of longtime Vineyard residents that lost nearly everything they'd once held, Ahmad portrays a modern American reality where privilege is not predictable and identity is formed in a crucible of contradictions. If this sounds dry and didactic, let me assure you that The Caretaker is anything but - Ahmad has crafted a story that is refreshing, sexy and heart-felt. I very much hope that this is not the last we'll see of Ranjit Singh, an original, complex hero for an uncertain, complicated time." - Lisa Brackmann, New York Times bestselling author of Rock Paper Tiger
"The Caretaker is a powerhouse tale, a literary thriller that's sharply observed and deeply felt. A. X. Ahmad is a remarkable new talent, and his hero, Ranjit Singh, takes his place beside Arkady Renko as a man trapped between the system and his own moral imperatives. The Caretaker is a surprising, gripping love story that manages to be both timely and timeless, and will be a novel people read for years to come." - Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Buried Secrets and Paranoia
"The Caretaker is a promising debut from A. X. Ahmad with a unique perspective and compelling hero, a novel that shines fresh and welcome light on our complex world." - James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor
"The Caretaker is a killer book and A. X. Ahmad's Ranjit Singh is a compelling man of action. Ahmad takes his readers on a careening ride from the glacial battlefields of South Asia to the supposedly safer digs of Martha's Vineyard. America may not be ready for a run-and-gun Sikh investigator, but we need him now." - Ed Lin, author of One Red Bastard
"This first novel combines the taut pacing of a thriller with the lush, lyrical writing of Jhumpa Lahiri." - Jenna Blum, New York Times Bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers
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Rated of 5
Vicki O. (Boston, MA)
What an Impressive Debut!
A.X. Ahmad has crafted a riveting mystery with a highly unlikely but engaging hero, Ranjit Singh and he is one of the reasons I enjoyed this so much. Singh has fled his past in the Indian military and now lives on Martha's Vineyard where he labors as a caretaker. When he takes a position working for a Senator, he discovers that the Senator has secrets that could have international implications. As the intrigue unfolds, Ahmad uses flashbacks very effectively to reveal what Singh is hiding and for me this character development is very important. Add crisp dialogue and vivid descriptions and you have a recipe for making me look forward to Ahmad's next book.
Rated of 5
Joe S. (Port Orange, FL)
An exciting read.
I found this book to be an interesting and exciting read. The scenes set in Kashmir when the main character was an Indian Army officer leading a combat patrol were, to me, some of the best parts of the book. The rest of the book is an intriguing and suspenseful action thriller with well developed characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the book..
Rated of 5
Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)
Keeps you reading . . .
This was a fast read because I couldn't stop till it was over. Good use of unusual mix of characters and odd plot. Though there were far fetched elements, they didn't detract from the pull of the plot.
Rated of 5
Laurie F. (Brookline, MA)
This was an interesting book, fast moving, interesting cultural issues, good character development until about 75 into the story.
As Rajit started getting deeper into trouble I had a feeling it was not going to end well. Many disconnected twists and a very short disappointing ending. Too bad as I was hoping for more.
Rated of 5
Carol E. (Stone Mountain, GA)
The Caretaker by A.X. Ahmad
The Caretaker by A.X. Ahmad was a fast-paced novel that was an easy read. The unexpected twists and turns provided enough suspense and intrigue to keep me interested, but at times it was a little difficult to understand the direction of the story. Ranjit Singh's flashback experiences as an Indian army captain gave a better understanding of his personality and some of his actions and decisions, but I yearned for more character development of his and the Senator's families. A few of the events and coincidences were a bit implausible, but did not detract from the overall premise of the story. I enjoyed the book, but because of its need for more details and explanation in some areas, I would be selective as to whom I would recommend it.
Rated of 5
Ann S. (Shenandoah, IA)
I am drawn to books with international plot lines. I found the conflict between cultures to be realistically portrayed. I assume the author is planning another book; at least the ending led me to think that. It did not bring the story to a "comfort" close, but was certainly intriguing. I look forward to the next book.
A. X. AHMAD was raised in India, educated at Vassar College and M.I.T., and has worked as an international architect. As Amin Ahmad, his short stories and essays on immigrant life have been published in The Missouri Review, The Harvard Review, The New England Review, Narrative Magazine and The Good Men Project. He was a finalist for Glimmertrain's Short Story Award, and has been listed in Best American Essays. He lives in Washington, D.C, where he teaches writing.
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