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*Starred Review* This fine thriller debut views disturbing political realism through the lens of Ranjit Singh, a newly immigrated Sikh fleeing danger in India after a politically explosive mistake ends his military career. Ranjit's hope to settle in Martha's Vineyard becomes reality when his landscaping work for a powerful senator's wife grows into an unexpected relationship, opening doors for him to work as winter caretaker for the island's wealthiest residents. When Ranjit's cottage is damaged, the only housing option is a clandestine short-term move onto the senator's property. But this brief flirtation with luxury is abruptly ended one night by armed men who break in and begin searching the house. Ranjit's military training ensures his family's escape, but the intruders track them to Boston and orchestrate his wife and daughter's detention for illegal immigration. Stealthily tracking his pursuers, Ranjit discovers that they are the senator's security personnel, desperately searching for something tucked inside a doll his daughter has taken from the house. Ranjit goes underground to decipher the doll's secret and strategize using it to secure his family's safety. Ahmad laces Ranjit's voice with sadness, creating beauty as he spins a cynically smart political thriller that draws parallels of political expediency between Washington deal-brokering and Ranjit's tragic past. Beyond the masterfully crafted, high-adrenaline story, readers will be fascinated by Ranjit's strong Sikh faith, rarely seen in American fiction.--Tran, Christine Copyright 2010 Booklist
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This well-written debut (the first in a trilogy) introduces Ranjit Singh, a former captain in the Indian army currently trying to make ends meet as a landscaper on Martha's Vineyard. When Anna Neals, wife of Sen. Clayton Neals, puts in a good word with her husband on Singh's behalf, the senator offers Singh a caretaker job and other gigs soon follow. Eventually Singh's family moves into the Neals's home, but they must flee when a break-in occurs. As they leave, Singh's daughter, Shanti, grabs a doll that contains a hidden microfilm chip that proves to be the key to the family's survival. Verdict In Singh, Ahmad has created a character who is both a familiar everyman trying to do right and a figure who may be foreign to many. The author has done something similar with the island of Martha's Vineyard, offering a locale that readers may think they know, but showing us the island's harsh winter face. These combinations of the familiar and the unfamiliar provide a read that moves beyond standard thriller fare. Weaving together Singh's Sikh faith with very personal moments, taut action sequences, and events with international significance, Ahmad's thriller should have broad appeal. [See Prepub Alert, 11/12/12.]-Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids, WI (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Ahmad's poignant debut, the first of a trilogy, introduces Ranjit Singh, a disgraced Indian army captain who's eking out a living as a landscaper on Martha's Vineyard with his discontented wife, Preetam, and his happy nine-year-old daughter, Shanti. Their fortunes take a turn for the better after Ranjit lands a job as the winter caretaker for the vacant house of Senator Clayton Neals in the African-American enclave of Oak Bluffs. Later, Ranjit and his family must flee the senator's house, where they have moved from their squalid living quarters, after Ranjit interrupts a break-in involving two armed men. Powerful people believe that Ranjit holds critical information and will stop at nothing to get it, so he must not only discover what the information is but how to use it to prevent his family's deportation and his own demise. Ahmad gradually reveals sordid political secrets and the story of Ranjit's disgrace in this finely textured story of bravery and knavery. Agent: Stephanie Abou, Foundry Media. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.