A crime novel with a Leicester detective and a spate of murders in Bangalore, India. I simply had to pick up Cold Sun to know more.
This is Sivakumaran's debut crime novel but she comes with an impressive record of poetry, short stories and novel publications. Her debut novel Queen, about the Tamil Nadu Chief minister Jayalalithaa’s rise to power was recently adapted into a web series. Her other works include feminist retelling of the mythological epics and a poetry collection apart from award winning short stories. Going by her previous works, it was easy to assume that this one would be hardhitting as the others.
Three prominent Indian women have been murdered in Bangalore. However when one of them turns out to be the ex-wife of the British Foreign minister, Scotland Yard sends DI Vijay Patel to India to help with investigation.
Patel has to battle local resentment and his ancestral country alongside Chandra Subramanium, the fierce female detective. But soon he becomes the target and Patel and Chandra must get to the killer before they become the next target.
What I liked:
- The authentic setting: This is the India I recognise – where you have the slums existing next to the suave hotels, where the hot weather and freezing AC are a part of life. It was great to see how Sivakumaran inserted these tiny details and made setting an important part of the novel.
- In the UK, dominant Indian communities seem to represent the general Indian ethos. Sivakumaran’s observations gives the reader an insight into the north-south divide that exists among the Indian communities. The NRI observations in connection with the weather and the food lighten the sombre mood of the dark, twisty plot.
- Patel is a Gujarati-Ugandan and an ex cricketer turned DI. As a Leicester resident, and it was great to see the city finding its place in a crime series.
- In true nature of a fast paced story there are constant developments - sometime a bit too much, in an attempt to maintain the action. Patel’s British Indian persona works well as a foil to the Indianness of Chandra just as her non-conforming attitude is a sharp contrast to the rule-abiding Patel.
- Sivakumaran’s writes compelling prose and her hardhitting style is a perfect fit for this genre. The plot sticks a little towards the end but by then you are already swept by the twists and the revelation to mind it much.
It is a fascinating debut and definitely a great start to a series. The main characters have strong backstories and their interaction is fizzing with chemistry. A fast paced crime debut, strong on setting.