The Detective is the third in Ajay Chowdhury’s series of London-based crime novels centred around a former detective from Kolkata. The series began with The Waiter, in which disgraced former detective Kamil Rahman solves a crime while working in the family restaurant in London. Rahman continued his amateur sleuthing in The Cook. Now, as the name of the book implies, Rahman is back in the tent, newly minted as a junior detective in the British Police Force.
But before we get to that, Chowdhury has a cold open involving the murders of a Jewish family in London’s East End on New Year’s Eve 2014. This story will sit in the background of the main plot which involves the murder of a tech start-up CEO in the same area. The death of the CEO is the first of a series of murders that the team Rahman has been assigned needs to investigate. Removal of the body, though, reveals the bones of the much earlier crime. This very cold case gives Rahman’s love interest Anjoli something to do and does eventually connect (although tangentially) to the main plot.
Unlike the first two books in this series, The Detective is a straight-up procedural. Rahman is now on the Police Force, reporting to his good friend Tahir. The two are the only Asian officers so are constantly having to deal with both petty and overt racism. The case itself revolves around an Israeli company backed by a Palestinian venture capitalist which has developed software that is coveted by the security services. This includes a weird (and convenient) virtual reality tour that just happens to be of the time and place in which the 1914 murders occurred. So there is plenty to unpack.
The first two books in this series had the hook of the amateur detective with skills working in his family restaurant. And while Rahman still uses the restaurant as a casual location to interview suspects, the link is becoming increasingly tenuous. All of which serves to make The Detective a fun, but fairly standard murder mystery in a series which is growing away from what made it stand out in the first place.