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.
Erin G. (Dulles, VA)
Timely, thoughtful thriller
Ranjit Singh is a complex, fascinating protagonist and his presence makes this book a consistently compelling read. Anyone who loves classic, John LeCarre-style thrillers will really enjoy the mixture of international intrigue and thoughtfully portrayed characters. The glimpses of Sikh life and beliefs, in addition to the contrasting views of American and Indian culture, made this a one-of-a-kind read. I hope this will be the start of a series. I'd be very interested in reading more novels with Ranjit Singh as the main character. I was less enamored with Anna, who was possibly too enigmatic, but all in all I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the genre.
Harriette K. (Northbrook, IL)
Ranjit Singh is a former officer in the Indian army. Disgraced after a court martial and prison sentence following a disastrous military operation, he takes his wife and child to the U.S. where he finds work, finally, as a caretaker in Martha's Vineyard. He is in charge of large homes that are used by the wealthy during the summer months and then closed down for the winter. Circumstances bring him to temporary shelter in the closed home of a powerful U.S, Senator. Then, further circumstances lead him and the reader on a wild journey in which Ranjit uses all his military training and skills to save his family and himself while trying to solve a mystery. If I reveal more of the plot, I will do disservice to the reader. It is enough to say that I was engrossed from beginning to end, The writer has written a masterful thriller, and has also explained many things about the Sikh religion that was a mystery to this reader. I especially like a story that also educates, and this one does. I highly recommend this tale to anyone who loves suspense.
Linda M. (Windsor, CA)
Review of The Caretaker
I really enjoyed this book. Found it to be fast-paced and well-plotted. I liked the way the protagonist's background story unfolded slowly throughout the book. I thought the characters were well written and believable. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense or political intrigue.
Kathy S. (Oshkosh, WI)
The Caretaker by A.X. Ahmad
Others have described this book as a "thriller" and a "novel about clashing cultures and painful histories", and I would agree. I enjoyed the author's flashback approach to explaining the main character's (Ranjit) back story and felt it helped to build suspense. I thought the author did a great job evoking time and place in India, Martha's Vineyard and Boston - lots of little details that drew me into the story and made me feel part of it. The plot was engaging and held my interest until the last page. My only complaint is that I had some difficulty in the middle of the story believing the way that Ranjit assumed that the Senator's wife would help him and be interested in his problem, although it was clarified in the end. Overall, an excellent, engaging debut!
Toby S. (Seattle, WA)
Very captivating novel with many intrigues
Having just finished "The Caretaker" A .X. Ahmad, I realized that I had stopped reading only once to take a break while reading this captivating novel. The pace of the plot was in the fast "thriller" category, and the several simultaneous themes were brought to a climax with much clever and ingenious techniques. The protagonist (a former Captain in the Indian army in its battles with Pakistan who has moved his family to the US) was a most sympathetic character. While by no means did I find the plot truly plausible (I can't imagine it REALLY being realistic)), it was an entertaining and absorbing read especially when I suspended my normal common sense. The author is obviously knowledgeable of the countries in which the novel takes place and overall it was very much an impressive literary debut.
Bonnie B. (Port St. Lucie,, FL)
Remarkably Good Thriller
Ranjit Singh was a revered army officer in India. Through circumstances he could not avoid he was dishonored and decided to leave India and go to the United States. There he took a series of caretaking jobs on Cape Cod. One was for a powerful Senator. Ranjiit gets involved with the Senator's wife and is torn between two women. He is also involved in international corruption which he doesn't really understand. Unfortunately, he finds himself in the middle of it. I highly recommend this book.