Title: The Caretaker
Author: A. X. Ahmad
About the story: During one extremely harsh and cold December night, Ranjit Singh, an ex-captain in the Indian army and now an immigrant in America, moves his family illegally into Senator Neals house in Martha’s Vineyard, where he works as the caretaker. The Vineyard is an isolated island that remains mostly deserted through the winter season. All though Preetam, Ranjit’s wife, is not happy about his move from Boston to the Vineyard, Ranjit decisively avoids going back to Boston, where he worked in an Indian department store owned by Preetam’s condescending uncle, Lallu.
One night Ranjit’s idyll world is turned upside down, when two men barge into the Senator’s house in search of an old, porcelain doll. Ranjit escapes with his family, but his little daughter, Shanti, innocently carries the doll in her backpack. Ranjit and his family become fugitives. Preetam, disgusted and angered by the events, returns to her uncle’s home in Boston along with Shanti.
Ranjit realizes that the old doll hides a secret that the Senator aggressively tries to get back. The Homeland Security detains Preetam and Shanti since their visas had expired long back. The threat of deportation looms large on Ranjit’s head and he knows that he has to act fast before the Senator’s men catch him.
He is also laden with the guilt of his mistake that he committed when he was in the army, leading a troop of men on the icy Siachen Glacier. Captain Ranjit and his Sergeant had erroneously identified an Indian camp as enemies and killed Indian soldiers. Ranjit is unable to forgive himself for his own mistake and often his past returns to haunt him.
Ranjit also finds himself irresistibly attracted towards the Senator’s wife, Anna, who helps him to save his family. Can Ranjit unravel the mystery behind the porcelain doll in time and save his wife and daughter? Will he be able to finally forgive and forget the disaster that tragically cut short his career in army?
Read the fast-paced action/thriller novel to find out more about Ranjit Singh.
My Review: There are hardly few novels by Indian authors which can actually make you anxiously grip the armchair when you read it. And this novel definitely does that. For it is fast-paced, racing from the current situation where Ranjit bolts and flees away from the grip of the Senator’s thugs to his icy adventure, scaling to the top of the highest mountain attempting to bring down the enemy camp.
The thrill and mystery manages to keep the adrenaline rushing in readers. However, there are some scenes which slacken the plot towards the end and these could have been avoided. The prolonged affair between Ranjit and the Senator’s wife, Anna in the climax seemed a little inconceivable, especially when the deportation threat loomed large on his family.
And the abrupt nature of the climax implies a sequel in making. Would I pick up the sequel? Definitely.
Verdict: A fast-paced action, compelling thriller that slightly wavers towards the ending of the book.