SEASON OF THE MONSOON by Paul Mann

SEASON OF THE MONSOON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Murder in Bombay--in an enjoyable if strained entry in the serial-killer/travelogue subgenre pioneered by Martin Smith in Gorky Park and highlighted by William Bayer's Jerusalem-set Pattern Crimes and Joseph Koenig's Tehran-based Brides of Blood. ``Anything--absolutely anything--can happen in India,'' says hero-cop George Sansi, and as presented by Mann (The Traitor's Contract, 1990), anything--and nearly everything--does, beginning with the discovery at Film City, India's Hollywood, of a horribly savaged body. Sansi--an appealingly saturnine character who's perhaps the only blue-eyed Indian walking the subcontinent (courtesy of the British general who sired him)--pursues the case with his usual moral diligence, stepping on powerful toes as he links the body to a gay prostitution ring serving film bigwigs. The Special Branch inspector is pulled into a second case as well, trying to stop a war between rival Bombay gangsters, a subplot that points up the novel's major strength and weakness: Mann's crackling depiction of India as a madhouse where the only real law is that of survival (most forcefully displayed during Sansi's visit to Dharavai, Bombay's fetid slum-suburb); and the author's forced striving for eccentrically interesting incidents and characters (as seen in the gangster Paul Kapoor, who talks in 50's slang and worships Elvis). Sansi can't stop Kapoor from slaying his rival, but, after a second mutilated body surfaces, the cop does trace the killings back to a 50-year-old murder spree--and to that long-ago killer's grandson, living in London, where the novel attenuates into a dull tracking of the culprit by Sansi, followed by a Bombay- set finale that seems stapled on. Fast-moving and fascinating for its exotic lore, but you can hear Mann's mechanics clanking away. Still, the engagingly earnest Sansi and his amazing India deserve a sequel.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-449-90768-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993




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