Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


THE LAST TAXI RIDE by A. X. Ahmad: Book Review

Like many immigrants, Ranjit Singh came to the United States hoping for a better life.  But, also like many immigrants, he found it harder than expected to achieve that life.  A former Indian army officer and an adherent of the Sikh religion, he arrived in the U.S. with his wife and daughter, but his wife soon took their daughter and returned to India.  

Ranjit is now working as a taxi driver during the day and as a security guard in an import firm at night in order to earn enough money to rent a bigger apartment because his teenage daughter is coming to live with him on a trial basis for a year.

The combination of his two jobs, seemingly separate, lead Ranjit into trouble and danger.  On a routine taxi run he picks up the beautiful Indian actress Shabana Shah and delivers her to the famous Dakota condominium in Manhattan.  As the Dakota’s doorman opens the taxi door, he and Ranjit recognize each other from their days in the army, and Mohan Jumar invites Ranjit to come back to the building after he’s through with his night-time job.  

When Rajit returns to the Dakota, Mohan takes him up to Shabana’s condo, explaining that the movie star is out of town and that he is looking after the apartment for her.  He and Ranjit share a meal from the food in Shabana’s refrigerator and Ranjit leaves, only to be charged the following day with the brutal murder of the actress.  Her bludgeoned body was found on the floor of her apartment by her sister, and the weapon has Ranjit’s fingerprints all over it.  And the doorman Mohan is nowhere to be found.

As I’ve written in previous blogs, one of the joys of reading is discovering new countries, new cultures, new ways of life.  The Sikh religion, a monotheistic religion that is the fifth-largest in the world, was one I knew very little about.  The Last Taxi Ride explains some of their beliefs and quotes prayers that its devotees say when requesting help from their Gurus, the embodiments of Ultimate Reality.  

Sikhism is only five hundred years old, yet it has over thirty million adherents worldwide.  And although Ranjit Singh isn’t always regular in his practices, he believes in his religion and calls upon the Lord for help in difficult situation.  Unlike Western religions, with books such as the Bible or the Quran as its source, Sikh practitioners read about their religion predominantly in poems and hymns, and there are some beautiful examples in the novel.  

A. X. Ahmad’s Ranjit Singh is a fascinating protagonist, a man who has made mistakes in his life but is constantly trying to better himself and help those around him.  The Last Taxi Ride is the second in the series, and I’m on my way now to the nearest bookstore to buy the first one, The Caretaker.  

You can read more about A. X. Ahmad at this web site

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.  



Leave a Reply