Great thrillers arent easy to come by and when they do, you end up spending the entire day or night reading them and wonder where time went by. To think that a debut writer would dish something like this is another story. Thrillers that are also intellectual are a step further, almost like icing on the cake and you just gulp it one long sitting. The Caretaker by A.X. Ahmad is one such gem of a book.
The book has many layers to it. It is a fast-paced literary thriller for sure, but it also takes into account issues of identity, race and ones roots. Having said that, the pace of a thriller isnt compromised. Ahmad ensures that his story-telling prowess is not settled for anything else.
The Caretaker is about a caretaker Ranjit a Sikh, once an Indian Army Captain and now literally a caretaker in the United States of Americas. He ensures his wife and daughter; also seek refuge in a new country with him. This further leads him to become a caretaker to Anna Neals house, the young second wife of the longest serving African-American senator.
The story then picks up pace from there. Ranjit due to financial reasons and his wifes loneliness and depression, shelters his family in that house. One day two men trespass and break in searching for computer records, which could ruin the political career of the senator. This further leads to more chaos, at the risk of wrecking Ranjit and his familys life.
The plot is thick and well-developed. At times, the reader could get lost, however that is just momentarily. The book deals with a lot of cultures, so there is no boredom at any point. The Caretaker is a book whose layers are exposed one by one leaving the reader with bated breath. A definite recommendation for a lone evening.
A compelling thriller that introduces a new hero for our times: Ranjit Singh, former captain in the Indian Army, illegal immigrant in the heart of white America and caretaker to the rich and famous.
One harsh winter, Ranjit illegally moves his family into an empty, luxurious vacation home belonging to an African-OAmerican Senator. Ensconced in the house, he tries to forget his brief affair with Anna, the Senators 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 gets drawn into the Senators 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, Ranjits painful past resurfaces and he must finally confront the hidden event that destroyed his career in the Army 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 Marthas Vineyard and a secret high-altitude war between India and Pakistan.
About the Author:
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 Glimmertrains Short Story Award and his work been listed in Best American Essays. He lives in Washington, D.C, where he teaches writing.