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The Caretaker: A Ranjit Singh Novel Paperback – May 27, 2014

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Product Details

  • Series: Ranjit Singh (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (May 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250020409
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250020406
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*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. --Christine Tran --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“How good does The Caretaker sound as an audiobook? Forget multitasking while you listen to this gripping narration of The Caretaker and follow the story of disgraced Sikh Indian Army Captain Ranjit Singh...narrator Sam Dastor’s voice holds our attention and makes us stop what we are doing to listen. The pace and cadence of the audio version create just the right mood for this story. Dastor’s versatile voice repertoire adds richness to Ahmad’s characters and brings them off the page and into our living room, car, studio…from wherever we are listening.” – New York Journal of Books


“Sam Dastor provides this compelling audio edition with dramatic, crisp narration. He capably switches between a variety of appropriate and distinctive accents – primarily Indian (the protagonist, his family, his associates) and the American (the growly senator; his friendly, soft-spoken wife; the gruff pursuers). Dastor’s careful, intelligent rendering enhances Ahmad’s novel and makes for great listening.” – Publishers Weekly


“Sam Dastor, as the reader, provides convincing accents and personalities for the fairly large cast of characters.” – The Star-Ledger


“Sam Dastor is the perfect choice to portray the main character, a Sikh man named Ranjit. Dastor’s interpretation of Indian-accented English is as accurate a subcontinental accent as anyone is likely to hear.” – AudioFile Magazine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

More About the Author

A.X. Ahmad is the author of the RANJIT SINGH trilogy. The first book, THE CARETAKER, was published in 2013, and the second, THE LAST TAXI RIDE, was published in 2014.

A.X. was born in Calcutta, India, was educated at Vassar College and MIT, and worked for many years as an international architect before taking up writing full time. He has studied writing at N.Y.U., The New School, and Grubstreet. A.X. splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Brooklyn, NY, and teaches at the Bethesda Writer's Center.

More about him at:

Customer Reviews

I'm eager to read the next book in the trilogy.
Some characters & aspects of the plot go by a little too quickly for perfect plausibility, but there are only so many pages one can put into a book.
Shymala Dason
I really enjoyed this well crafted and fast paced book.
Gary Frank

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mohan Babu K on November 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The novel’s protagonist is Ranjit Singh, a burly Sikh, fresh off the boat from India who finds himself running around Martha’s Vineyard, getting involved with a black senator’s wife.

No twist of plot is complete without the former Indian Army captain yearning for a cup of garam (hot) chai or a bowlfull of steaming Kichdi. Flashbacks in the narrative flush out details of Captain Ranjit Singh’s past: a court marshaled ex-captain from the Indian army, who commanded an elite unit during Indo-Pak conflict in Siachen glacier. Ranjit also happens to be a devout Sikh and son of a martyred Army officer.

Mr. Ahmad successfully throws everything into his debut novel: story spanning continents, transnational characters, power and intrigue and a bit of melodrama. The author also weaves in bit of geo politics – a US senator trying to get brownie points by getting involved in Indo-Pak conflict and hostage negotiation in North Korea - and quirks in US immigration

A lot of masala in the page-turning thriller to keep readers engaged.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ranjit Singh was a respected army captain in India, scaling the highest mountains with his troops. When a disaster occurs, he is court-martialed and placed in jail for three years. Once he gets out of jail he takes his wife and daughter to the United States where he settles into Cape Cod and becomes a caretaker for the wealthy estates during the winter months. He is penniless except for the minimal wages he makes from his jobs.

One of his caretaking jobs is for a United States senator. He also does some stone work for them. He gets involved with Anna, the senator's wife, and is torn between his family and Anna. Without knowing how it happens, he realizes that he has come into possession of a highly secret document. From there, all hell breaks loose and he is a wanted man with a contract on his life.

Ranjit is a religious man who prays to his Guru and his god often. However, neither can get him out of this mess. He suspects that the people after him have to do with the senator but nothing is sure. The senator was involved in some high states negotiations with India and North Korea and Ranjit has some idea of what was involved.

Ranjit is a good man, honest and courageous. However, he is losing his family. His wife is falling into a deep depression and wants to return to India. There is nothing in the United States. His daughter, Shanti, whom he loves desperately, would have to go with his wife if she leaves.

As Ranjit sorts out the players in this game of hunting and stalking him, the pages fly by. This is a very well-written and page-turning thriller, the best kind of its genre. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Angie on May 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing literary thriller. I love fast-paced thrillers with plot twists and suspenseful mysteries/questions that drive the novel, but I find that most of those types of books are light on character development, beautiful prose, etc. On the other hand, I find that most literary novels can be a bit too slow. A.X. Ahmad's book is one of the few books I can think of that combines the best of both worlds. It's a fast-paced, exciting, and fun page-turner (I read the whole thing from cover to cover, at one point holding the book with one hand and reading while stir-frying dinner with the other) AND it's written beautifully, with gorgeous descriptions and insightful social commentary sprinkled throughout. I cannot wait for books #2 and #3 in the series!

My favorite part of the book has to be Ranjit, the protagonist. He's a complex character, with many facets, some of which contradict each other. I love his relationship with his daughter, his love for her and her safety and happiness that drives him. His relationships with his wife and the other woman in his novel are probably the side of him I least like - I found myself frustrated with some of his choices in the love department. But I liked that he's a flawed hero, and that I care about him enough to get pissed off at some of the stupid things he does with respect to his wife.

The flashback scenes to the Siachen Glacier give another layer of depth to this novel. They were really interesting in their own right (of course, it helps that I've been on an Everest kick lately in my choice of books), but I really loved how this whole thread comes together with the present-day (main) plot at the end. It served two purposes: to help us understand Ranjit's history, what drives him, etc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By PT Cruiser TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book was completely enjoyable and entertaining. I loved the main character, Ranjit Singh, who was a caretaker on Martha's Vineyard after emigrating to the U.S. from India. He is a disgraced and court marshalled ex-captain from the Indian army, a former commander in an elite Sikh unit that was involved in a secret mission in the mountains between India and Pakistan. Flashbacks throughout the book detail this second story of how he ended up in the U.S., barely able to make a living for himself, his wife and his young daughter.

Ranjit is not a perfect character and we come to see some of his flaws as the story unfolds. But underneath some of his choices, he is a good man and a person that I can to admire as I read the story. It was fast paced and a page turner that I finished in two days. It had elements of a political thriller, a love story and just an all around good read. The other main characters, besides Ranjit, are an Afro-American U.S. Senator and his wife, and Ranjit's wife and daughter. Ahmad does a great job of introducing us to these characters and to some of the Indian culture and the Sikh religion. His descriptions of the food and drink were especially effective in bringing the reader into the story. It's the kind of book I could easily see being made into a movie with all the action and adventure. I hope Ahmad will be writing more books because I'll be the first in line to read them.
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