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HUNTED by Abir Mukherjee: Book Review

I’ve been a fan of Abir Mukherjee since he wrote the first in his outstanding series of five mysteries that take place in India during the British Raj.  The books originally featured British Police Detective Sam Wyndham who is later joined by his Indian colleague Surendranath “Surrender-not” Bannerjee.

Now the author has written a very different novel, a present-day thriller that travels from England to Oregon to Los Angeles to Florida and is told in several voices.  The protagonists are Bangladeshi, British, and American, Muslim, Christian, and Hindu.  It makes for a fascinating story seen through the eyes and minds of people of different backgrounds, ethnic groups, and religions.

As the novel begins, Yasmin and Jack are in Los Angeles, inconspicuously entering a mall in Los Angeles, pulling their luggage behind them.  They find seats at a Starbucks, Jack brings coffee to their table, and their undertaking begins.  Jack leaves the coffeeshop first, followed as planned by Yasmin exactly three minutes later.  They are to rendezvous outside the shopping center’s radio station and leave their suitcases there.  But when Yasmin arrives, Jack is nowhere in sight.

Yasmin starts running through the mall, searching for him and pulling her bag behind her.  When her phone rings, she pulls it from her pocket and hears another phone ringing from inside her luggage.  She knows then that something is wrong, even if she’s not certain what it is.  She begins to say the Muslim declaration of faith, “There is no God…,” but before she can finish, the bomb in the luggage explodes, killing Yasmin and several others.

The book’s characters are varied and outstanding.  Beside Yasmin and Jack, readers will meet several others with their own stories to tell.  Shreya Mistry is the FBI agent originally assigned to the bombing, dealing with her strong “hunches” that often are diametrically opposed to the orders she receives from her superiors; Greg Flynn is a former soldier with PSTD, trying to find his way back into civilian life; Sajid Khan is a father who has already seen more tragedy in his life than any man should; Carrie Flynn is Greg’s mother, who has traveled 3,000 miles because of a connection she fears she sees between her son and the bombing; and Miriam, the mysterious and charismatic leader of the small group of people who want to change the world.

This is a novel that pulls in two directions.  First, one will want to read it as quickly as possible because the tension is so great.  Second, that same reader will want to read it as slowly as possible because they don’t want the book to end.  Talk about a difficult decision.

The ending of Hunted is as perfect as the rest of the story.  Readers will find themselves torn between wanting to punish certain characters who did horrendous things and yet wanting to forgive them.  It takes a master writer to bring an ending to such a satisfactory conclusion.

Abir Mukherjee’s writing career began at the age of 39, when he was inspired to learn that Lee Child didn’t become an author until age 40.  He is the recipient of the Crime Writers Association’s Historical Dagger for his first novel, A Rising Man.  You can read more about the author at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.


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