Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing Kolkata Noir by Tom Vater. Before I get into this review, I would like to say a massive thank you to him, as well as his PR agent (Henry), for sending me a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I was also lucky enough to interview Tom, which can be found here.
Kolkata Noir is an intriguing crime fiction following two protagonists – Becker and Madhurima, who are both detectives. The novella is split into three different parts (the past, present and future) and spans over a total of forty years. Each time they meet, there is a new crime for Becker and Madhurima to solve, which made for a compelling and fast paced read!
One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was definitely the description of Kolkata. As someone who’s never visited before, it was incredibly interesting, and Vater painted a vivid image for the reader. The details he included were absolutely amazing and you could tell how much research had went into it. I think the fact that Vater had actually visited and spent a lot of time there definitely helped in creating such a clear picture of the setting and it was lovely to read!
I also found it extremely interesting to see the differences in time. As each part was set with twenty years in between, it was fascinating seeing the changes Kolkata had underwent, the most obvious being the name change. I really enjoyed reading about how the city was completely transformed and I also found it really interesting to see Vater’s take on what Kolkata could look like in the future. The differences in the city served really well for highlighting how much time had passed since Becker and Madhurima had last seen each other.
Speaking of Becker and Madhurima, I really liked their friendship. It was really lovely reading about the way they bounced off from each other and it was clear how much they cared for each other. I really wanted to see the two end up together, and their feelings for one another was another central aspect of the book. I really loved both of these characters separately and anyone could tell how well suited they were for each other!
Of course, my favourite character was probably Madhurima. She was such a strong female lead and it was lovely to see. Her determination was incredibly inspiring, and her struggles with living up to her uncle’s reputation (he was also an inspector) were definitely a really relatable theme. It was so nice to see a female who was so driven with her career and aspirations as this isn’t always the case in books, despite women being just as ambitious as men in real life.
I also really liked how diverse the characters were. The representation was absolutely amazing and Vater covered most bases. It was nice to see all the different characters and their beliefs and journeys, and I really appreciated this on Vater’s part. This was also highlighted in the different focuses in the past and the present, with one showing the wealthy site of Kolkata and the other showing the poverty.
Overall, I would recommend Kolkata Noir for anyone looking for a fast paced crime fiction with numerous different mysteries to solve. I would also recommend it for anyone who enjoys travel, as all of the book was set into Kolkata, and it truly gave a taste of what it was like there.
I hope you enjoyed this review!