Swift and sure, on track and mostly on time, a train hurtles across the plains and hills of central India. Moving to the rhythmic clatter of steel wheels on steel rails, it carves out a kind of core sample of the land and its people, allowing passengers to view from its windows an array of timeless Indian sights: dun-hued mud huts and strange trapezoidal temples, men in red turbans and women in blazing-yellow saris.
[ADDENDUM: Three years ago, I traveled to India. It was my first trip to the subcontinent, and it may well be my last—not because it failed to leave an impression on me, but because it left such a bewilderingly strong one. After my return home, I read this book, along with one or two other detective novels that took India as their setting. India, famously, is a land of great chaos and a land of great beauty. There’s nothing like a good mystery yarn, or even a bad one, to banish the spell of chaos. As for beauty, I don’t need a book to help me remember that side of the Indian experience.]