Season of the Monsoon
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"Sansi's passion becomes him, along with the genre he serves so brilliantly." The New York Times. See more reviews
Anglo-Indian detective George Sansi strives to bring justice to the teeming streets of Mumbai in the first of the Sansi series. The bizarre mutilation murders of male prostitutes lead Sansi to the back lots of Bollywood and the power centers of New Delhi and London as he tracks a serial killer who uses India as his own murderous playground.
If ever a book was meant to be, it was Season Of The Monsoon. To quote Truman Capote, sometimes writing a book is like being God's stenographer. The book comes through you, not from you. That's how it was with Season Of The Monsoon.
The seed of an idea was planted many years ago when I was still in school. History was one of my favorite subjects. I've always believed that history never gets old. It's a time machine that introduces us to real people caught up in the most extraordinary real life events. Just imagine being with Elizabeth the First inspecting her troops at Plymouth while the Spanish Armada sailed up the English Channel or riding at Lord Cardigan's side during The Charge Of The Light Brigade – without any danger to ourselves, of course.
One day our history teacher at Westridge Secondary Modern, Mr. Abrahart, was telling us about the British conquest of India, the creation of the Raj and the difficulty of a country of 11 million trying to control a country of 150 million. I was appalled at the idea of scraping the bottom of the civil service barrel so that minor British officials would be sent out to India where they could wield the power of life and death over millions. As a child I suspect I'd already experienced the horrors of petty civil servants with too much power. Somehow the idea coalesced over the years into the plot for Season Of The Monsoon, in which a British civil servant takes murder holidays in India.
Of course, turning it into a book required a little more than that and this is where I got lucky. I went to Mumbai to do the research with a letter of introduction to Niloufer Bilimoria, the very well connected guest relations manager at the Mumbai Oberoi. She introduced me to Pritham Phatnani, the deputy coroner of Mumbai who opened his life, home, case files and morgue to me. The wealth of material I got from Pritham added immensely to the realism of the book. My luck continued when I stopped by Crime Branch, the major crime detection department of the Maharashtra Police Service in Mumbai, hoping to get some background for my blue eyed anglo-indian protagonist, Detective Inspector George Sansi. As luck would have it I arrived as the Joint Commissioner of Crime Branch, Arvind S. Inamdar, was hosting his weekly session of meetings with members of the public who had cases or complaints they wanted investigated. Commissioner Inamdar let me sit in for the afternoon as his guest and later answered any and all questions I had. A quite astonishing level of access. It got even better from there. I hired a driver and translator to help me navigate various locations around Mumbai, including Film City, which provides a critical backdrop to the story. For those who may not know, Film City is the heart of Bollywood. A gigantic complex of studios and sets north of Mumbai that dwarfs anything in Hollywood. Not only did the production manager give me an extensive tour of Film City I was treated to afternoon tea by director Ravi Chopra on the set of the mega-series he was directing for Indian television about the life of Chanakya, the Hindu Machiavelli.
I have often said that India is the closest we can get to visiting another planet. To then be told the inside story of that planet from its most knowledgeable citizens was a stroke of good fortune that invested Season Of The Monsoon with remarkable accuracy and authenticity. One of the greatest compliments I have ever received is to be told by Indians that I really captured the essence of their country.
All I had to do then, of course, was write it. As someone who no longer enjoys the stamina of youth it is quite amazing to me now that I wrote Season Of The Monsoon in 10 months. More than any other book I've written Season Of The Monsoon poured out of me with a passion and a fluidity that I have never known since. Everything worked, everything came together. To invoke an overused literary phrase the book seemed to write itself. I was privileged to be the middle man. If you are coming to it for the first time I hope you find it as compelling to read as I did to write.
Addendum: When I first wrote Season Of The Monsoon I used names for some characters that were, in effect, nonsense names. The intent was to avoid any coincidence with real persons and I think most readers, especially Indian readers, got that. But some took offence. So I welcomed the opportunity to revise and update Season Of The Monsoon for Kindle and Amazon. All the names in the revised edition are as accurate and as authentic as the rest of the book. I plan on revising The Ganja Coast and The Burning Ghats similarly just as soon as I can get to them.