Sunday Times Top Crime Book of the Year 2022
‘Chowdhury makes the murder mystery feel like a brand new invention’ Christopher Fowler
‘Thrilling…This is a terrific series and a vivid portrait of the East End’ Sunday Times
“Compelling and Compassionate” The Times
‘Chowdhury’s portrayal of multicultural London is as effective as his portrayal of the mixed feelings of his characters.’ Literary Review
‘Ajay Chowdhury and Ian Rankin are among the authors of this year’s standout novels’ The Guardian
‘A heady mix of murder, intrigue and all things Indian’ Vaseem Khan
‘Characterisation and plotting are Chowdhury’s strengths. All the characters, even the ones who are given bit parts, live and breathe on the page. The pace rarely flags. It is always full throttle. Chowdhury grabs the reader by the scruff of the neck on the opening page. He floors the accelerator and never lets his foot off the pedal, right until the very end.’ The Asian Age
‘Ajay Chowdhury is a refreshingly different voice in the crime genre and I can’t wait to read more’ Emily Koch
The Guardian Top Crime Books of the Year 2022
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 May 2022
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Kamil Rahman, chef and unofficial detective returns, and this second offering highlights his sleuthing skills. A young student has been murdered. As if one mystery to solve isn’t enough, some homeless people are dying. This story covers a lot of ground. Muslims and their daily routines, family honour, homelessness and the melting pot of London that provides their home; such as is.
I have a feeling that the lure of detective work will pry Kamil away from the kitchen and I’d welcome that. Kamil operates with compassion and a keen eye on what brings out our inner demons.
The story was pulled together particularly well and stayed focused throughout. A very strong follow up.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 May 2022
I really enjoyed the first novel featuring ex-detective, turned waiter (now promoted to cook) at Tandoori Knights, so I was thrilled to receive the second to review. Kamil is still working in Brick Lane, alongside Anjoli, who featured in the first novel. Anjoli is now managing the restaurant, while Kamil is discovering a new talent for cooking delicious food. The banter, and friendship, between these two give the characters depth, while they are joined by a third, the beautiful Naila, studying , a nursing at Kings and who has definitely caught Kamil’s eye.
When Kamil and Naila find her fellow student, Salma, murdered, they are again plunged into an investigation. Labelling themselves, ‘The Three Duskyteers,’ they set out to discover who – and why – Salma was killed. DS Tahir Ishmael is another fun character, a detective who tends to drop fictional characters into his speech and make fun of Kamil while admiring his tenacity. Meanwhile, of course, Kamil still hankers after ‘real’ police work, after being forced to leave Kolkata to come to London.
Although Chowdhury has a light, comedic touch, to his writing and dialogue, this is an intelligent mystery which deals with some dark topics, from controlling marriages and the expectations on women from the Pakistani and Bengali community that Rahman writes about, through to the plight of London’s homeless. For alongside the murder of Salma, is the fact that so many of the homeless around Anjoli and Kamil’s restaurant, seem to be dying suddenly. Add to the excellent characters and plot, is the intriguing ending of this novel, which offers both the author and his central character, the loveable Kamil, a chance to extend his investigative role. I look forward to reading more of his adventures, wherever the author decides to take Kamil in future. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 May 2022
The Waiter was one of my favourite crime novels of last year and I was really excited to see that Ajay Chowdhury had written a new story about the ex-detective Kamil Rahman. Kamil is now a cook in The Tandoori Knights restaurant on Brick Lane in London and is feeling almost content with his new life. Then he discovers a customer of the restaurant murdered in her flat. The girl was a fellow student of his girlfriend and he is persuaded to begin his own investigation into her death. At the same time, there is a mysterious spike in deaths among the homeless men in their area. The two things seem to be completely unconnected but things are definitely not as they seem.
The previous novel was set both in Pakistan and London but this one is very firmly based in London and we get a vivid picture of the area around Brick Lane and the other parts of the city that Kamil visits as part of his investigation. I loved the attention to detail in the settings and the double plot works brilliantly. The depiction of the homeless men really brings home their situation although it doesn’t overpower the narrative. It’s also great to have such a positive role for the mosque and the Imam and to see the part that these play in the lives of many people.
Kamil is a really likeable character who wants to do the right thing and is unsure what his path in life is. Anjoli, his friend and manager of the restaurant is also a brilliantly vivid character who definitely knows her own mind and will not let the issue of the homeless deaths be ignored.
Amateur detectives who get members of the public to talk to them are always a bit dubious but the author deals with this well by Kamil using his status as a detective in Pakistan and also his friendship with one of the police officers actually investigating the crime.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to find out what happens to Kamil next.