Bombay Monsoon by James W. Ziskin: 4****

James Ziskin has authored the highly successful and award-winning Ellie Stone mystery series, but his most recent book breaks that mold and takes us to India in “Bombay Monsoon.” The setting is India, the year 1975, and into this monsoonal time period we follow journalist Danny Jacobs who has little to no background or knowledge of India. His debut is auspicious as he bags an interview with a terrorist bomber (and even snaps a photo of the man on the sly), but things go downhill from here.

            In 1975 the Indian Supreme Court has ruled that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s 1971 election was illegal, and before you know it she imposes a state of emergency in the country and all news is now censored. This puts a serious crimp into Danny’s job, but he manages to have fallen for the lovely Sushmita who is the girlfriend of his upstairs apartment neighbor. We get to follow Danny through half-hearted efforts to secure interviews with famous Bollywood actors, romantic trysts with Sushmita, as well as getting a cultural tour of India. But, before Danny’s interview with the terrorist can be published the terrorist contacts him and retracts his permission for the interview to be published, and to give back that roll of film Danny had with him at the time. Now Danny is on the run from the terrorist, along with even more trysts with Sushmita and even gets caught up in a major police investigation.

            All of this keeps things rolling at an exciting clip, and James Ziskin is certainly up to the task of holding together an exciting plot and also providing us with some very well crafted characters. We share a nerve wracking trip through the Ghats, come face to face with killers and find out some secrets about Sushmita. Nobody is who they appear and Ziskin is able to keep us on edge, as Danny stumbles from one dilemma to another. Not sure if the author is going to go back to his Ellie Stone mysteries, but I, for one, hope he continues with more adventures involving India and Danny Jacobs.

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