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THE CARETAKER
by A. X. Ahmad
Minotaur Books, May 2013
304 pages
$24.99
ISBN: 1250016843


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When a former Indian Army captain gets a job at a Massachusetts senator's summer home on Martha's Vineyard as a caretaker for the winter, it seems that finally his life is beginning to take a positive turn. Prior to that, Ranjit Singh had been struggling financially to keep his small family afloat. He'd also been haunted by his past career in the Indian Army, the reason he was forced to leave his homeland.

When Singh faces a temporary setback, he moves his family into the senator's home for a few days during the winter without telling anyone. When intruders break into the home, thinking it empty, Singh's family must flee for their lives. Just what are these well dressed men searching for? And what is the senator hiding?

The lives of Singh and the senator intersect in extraordinary ways from there on out. It's a story where everyone has much to hide. This strangely moving story by AX Ahmad takes readers on two journeys, one past, one present. In both instances the characters face decisions that are life-changing not only for themselves but for their nations as well.

The story also illustrates (without beating readers over the head) just what it is like to struggle in a strange land, where simply the way one dresses can have an impact on how one is treated. Within the novel, there are characters locked into their own xenophobic worlds, as well as those who open their hearts to others, without judgment. There are family heartaches and the pressure to get elected. As each man struggles to hide his worst sins, it soon becomes clear that no man is an island and the repercussions for past actions eventually come to bear on the present.

Readers who enjoy a fresh take on the thriller will enjoy this book. It has plenty of action, but the lingering lessons of life away from the action are where the real enjoyment lies.

Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, March 2013

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