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The Caretaker (Ranjit Singh #1)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  817 Ratings  ·  194 Reviews
Who is the caretaker hiding in the shadows of the Martha's Vineyard mansions he tends?

Back in India, Ranjit Singh commanded an elite army squad. But that was years ago, before his Army career ended in dishonor, shattering his reputation. Driven from his homeland, he is now a caretaker on the exclusive resort island of Martha's Vineyard, looking after the vacation homes of
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published May 21st 2013 by Minotaur Books
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Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Well written debut thriller with great locales (India, Boston, Martha's Vineyard), lots of action, sharply drawn characters.

The protagonist, Ranjit Singh, is appealing. He's a Sikh and former member of the Indian military. Discharged from service due to scandal, Ranjit emigrates to the United States where he barely makes a living doing odd jobs on Martha's Vineyard. He's thrilled to land several jobs as winter caretaker for some of the expensive homes on the island. At least until he a
Sujata Massey
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Elegant, concise writing makes it hard to believe this is A.X. Ahmad's first novel. The Caretaker features Ranjit Singh, a disgraced ex-military officer from India, who's finally out of prison and is trying to start a new life in Boston with his depressed wife Preetam and sweet young daughter Shanti. Ranjit is frustrated working in the grocery store owned by his oppressive brother-in-law, so he leaps at the chance to work independently as a caretaker for a few estates on posh Martha's Vineyard. ...more
Angie Kim
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
Prabhleen Singh
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, to begin with, this was a giveaway from Goodreads and I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it is! This is not the first book I have read with the backdrop of the Indian army but unlike the others this one is an easy read for anyone who has not lived that life. When I started reading this book, I had this feeling that it is just going to be an action packed plotless novel. But I was highly mistaken! By the time I came midway through the book I realised I have never read anything of this s ...more
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This gracefully written yet ingeniously plotted tale effectively intertwines compelling human stories with political intrigue. Ahmad has created a new sharp memorable voice in fiction with Ramjet Singh, a disgraced Indian army captain hoping to rebuild his life in the United States, while attempting to do the right thing is challenged by family expectations, preconceived prejudices, and dubious double-crossing. In what seems like random twists of fate the taut action and twists highlights the of ...more
Oct 09, 2014 rated it liked it
More like a 2.5. Not a genre I typically read, but it was fun to mix it up a bit. I liked the way that so many different worlds were brought together (a Sikh man who was in the Indian army, a rich Senator from Massachusetts, poor immigrants working on Martha's Vineyard during the off-season, a Vietnam veteran in Boston, etc.). Unfortunately, parts of this book were just so unrealistic and the main character's relationship with the Senator's wife drove me absolutely nuts. Overall, though, the wri ...more
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Outlandish plot - felt like I was reading a screenplay for an overhyped action film instead of a novel. And the affair with the Senator's wife was disgusting. I'm not a prude reader, but their scenes made me want to vom. Two stars though for the breezy entertainment, no matter how unrealistic it was.
Nikita (NjKinny's World of Books & Stuff)
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone..A detailed and super interesting story.. :)
'At nineteen thousand feet on the Siachen Glacier, there is no longer earth and sky, just an endless mountain of snow.
In this infinity of white are six men, walking in line, moving in the drunken lockstep of the exhausted.'

The debut novel, "The Caretaker", by A.X. Ahmad starts on the high altitudes of the Siachen Glacier where Captain Ranjit Singh is leading his team of five on a covert operation into a gray zone with practically no information except a set of coordinates.

"This mission stinks
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am pretty happy with this debut novel. I have some issues but overall they are small, especially taking into account that this is the author's debut novel.

Our protagonist and flawed hero is Ranjit Singh, a disgraced Sikh former army captain now living as an undocumented worker struggling to make ends meet as a landscaper on Martha's Vineyard. Things are not going well but begin to look up a bit when he is offered the opportunity to work as caretaker during the off season for a famous senator
Bonnie Brody
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. He is penniless except for the minimal money he makes from his job.

One of his caretaking jobs is for a United States Senator. He also does some s
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
PROTAGONIST: Ranjit Singh, former elite Army Squad (India0
SETTING: Martha's Vineyard
RATING: 4.25
WHY: Ranjit Singh is a Sikh from India who came to America after being disgraced in an incident that occurred during his time in the elite Army Squad. He is serving as a caretaker for several homes in Martha's Vineyard. When his leased home loses heat, he illegally moves his wife and daughter into the home of one of his clients, a US Senator. The Senator and his wife have some secrets, and R
Dennis Henn
Aug 14, 2015 rated it liked it
The author should have taken better care of details. The story isn't bad until our Sikh gets shot. Sure, we know who will betray him but we allow for that, even feel smug. I quibble when a guy recovering from a gunshot wound drifts in and out of consciousness for two days, rouses to have vigorous sex, falls back into sleep, rouses to knockout and abduct a 6'4" giant of a man. Why does the bad guy with the dislocated shoulder--he is carrying a menacing revolver in his good hand--need to take and ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
The bad news first: I felt like this story left some loose ends and had some fairly hard to believe aspects such as: The Anna character and her relationship with Ranjit was barely plausible and out of character. Senators can make murders go away and grant green cards like Gods? Not that believable.

The good: I enjoyed the fact that it was set in Boston and Martha's Vineyard. The scenes from the the Siachen glacier and the little known "war" on this glacier between Pakistan & India were the m
Julie Wittman
Jun 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Feels to me like a something conceived of by an undergraduate writing student, or maybe I'm no the right audience for breezy political thrillers.

The characters are flat, and the plot is silly and too full of convenient coincidences. The stakes are neither convincing nor compelling.

If I have to read about the supposed romantic interest's "muscular body" one more time...

I abandoned the book 50 pages from the end. Was tired of rolling my eyes on every single page.
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Disclaimer: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway from Minotaur Books.

Thrillers really aren't my usual reads; they always turn out to be the same thing, just with different characters and scenarilos--at least that's how they always seem to me. So the story of a former Indian Army Captain trying to escape his shameful past by relocating his family to America and working as a landscaper/caretaker on Martha's Vineyardwho gets involved in international espionage didn't strike me as anything more
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Interesting and engaging mystery/thriller without much explicit blood or gore. The main character, Ranjit, is an Indian immigrant to the USA whose visa has expired. He has moved his family to Martha's Vineyard to break away from his overbearing brother-in-law in Cambridge, Mass. He soon becomes unwittingly embroiled in a plot that involves a US Senator, nuclear weapons and a couple of foreign governments. He has no idea what is going on at first, and he slowly pieces things together and takes th ...more
Patrice Hoffman
I have really enjoyed this debut novel featuring a disgraced sikh named Ranjit living in Martha's Vineyard trying to make ends meet and do what's best for his family. While living in the house of his boss Congressman Neal, a duo of masked entruders break in looking for an antique doll. The contents of the doll is so important that Ranjit's family and life and are threatened until it's return.

I really don't know where to start with this novel. It is very well-written. I could not tell that I was
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Caretaker by A.X.Ahmad is a compelling read about a man who is trying to run away from the ghosts of his past but they keep following him, no matter how far he runs. In his debut work, the author has given us our very own desi yet exotic hero in the form of Ranjit Singh, who is – a Sikh, a respected and brave former captain in the Indian Army, a fallen soldier, an illegal immigrant & a landscaper trying to pass off as a common brown man in America, in exactly that order.

Ranjit Singh is
Kathy Martin
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
THE CARETAKER was a wonderful suspense novel that was so well-written that I didn't even notice the prose because I was so involved in the story. Ranjit Singh is a Sikh and a disgraced army officer who has brought his family to the US to make a new life for them. But, after working unhappily in his wife's uncle's store, he has moved his family to Martha's Vineyard and become a landscaper. However, winter is coming, the jobs are ending, the house they are renting is falling apart, and his wife is ...more
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
I liked some things about the book. The descriptions of the failed military mission in the mountains between India and Pakistan where Ranjit and his men are betrayed by their superiors are well done. As is his experience trying to make a new life in Boston under the thumb of his wife's uncle. The descriptions of life on Martha's Vineyard and the Portuguese immigrant community there are also very good, as is the understandable build up of tension between Ranjit and his wife as they struggle in th ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Thrillers have to have a believable hook that also has some relevance. In today's world, the material usually stems from Iraq or Afghanistan, although there re many other events in the world that could provide a stepping stone for a satisfactory thriller. This is one example, which utilizes a unique prospective of an illegal immigrant in the United States, a disgraced Sikh member of the Indian special forces, who encounters disaster on a disputed glacier on the Pakistani border. In attempting to ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook-arc
The Caretaker was an intriguing book about a former Sikh army officer whose career ended in disgrace and prison. The storyline kept me in suspense, and wondering what would happen to Ranjit and his family next.

When he tries to start a new life with his family in the United States, Ranjit finds his job and his family's situation unbearable. He gains some contentment when he begins landscaping for residents of Martha's Vineyard. As winter sets in, difficulties amount for his family, and he takes h
Jun 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
The first 150 pages or so are fast paced and a nice change of scenery from your usual cast of characters. Ranjit is a veteran with PTSD issues. He's also a Sikh and an illegal immigrant working on Martha's Vineyard as a handyman and soon to be caretaker for the moneyed classes. A US senator's wife hires him for a job and before he knows it he's taking care of their house during the off season. Ranjit can never assimilate into the island because of his color and his attire and there's always that ...more
Eileen Iciek
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was well written with a sympathetic lead character, Ranjit Singh, a Sikh Indian captain forced to emigrate to America with his wife and daughter. He ends up on Martha's Vineyard, as a caretaker during the winter of several wealthy homeowners, including a U.S. Senator and his lovely wife, when he ends up targeted by several killers. The story was well plotted and moved along quickly. It was the kind of book you don't want to put down, and if you do, you find yourself thinkin ...more
This had a a terrific premise: a South Asian immigrant struggling to provide for his family becomes a caretaker for a congressman's summer home on Martha's Vineyard.

I think Ahmad did a great job with the immigrant family but lost it somewhere when describing the congressman and his wife. This is fiction, I know, but I was unable to effectively suspend disbelief when the FBI muscled in.

Too much other stuff captured my attention, like the very real stuff happening in the Muslim world that we don'
James Monroe
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A true page-turner! I used to love Michael Crichton books because he kept the pace going and raising the stakes, forcing you to keep reading... almost like the literary version of binge-watching TV!

This book would make a great movie a la The Bourne Identity; and it's about time for a non-white guy hero!
Jan 27, 2014 added it
Can't wait to see where this is going - hope there is a series of this character. The writing is tight and moves fast, I care about the character and his situations, and even though his world is foreign to me, I understand his motivations and purpose. Great read!
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very well written thriller with amazing capture of culture.
May 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A decent suspense story with interesting settings and characters. I would have given it one more star just because the protagonist is Sikh and an illegal immigrant, but I'm subtracting a star for the use of constant present simple tense. (e.g., He aims the gun at me...I grab a cup of coffee at the corner store...I take the elevator upstairs... etc.) This seems to be a convention of suspense writing but it gets on my nerves.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really suspenseful! I'll read the others
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A.X. Ahmad is the author of the Ranjit Singh trilogy. The first book, THE CARETAKER, was published in May 2013. The second book in the series, LAST TAXI RIDE, will be published in June 2014.

A.X. Ahmad grew up in India, was educated at Vassar College and MIT, and worked for many years as an international architect before taking up writing full time.

As Amin Ahmad, his short stories and essays on i
More about A.X. Ahmad...

Other Books in the Series

Ranjit Singh (2 books)
  • The Last Taxi Ride (Ranjit Singh, #2)

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“The Senator's wife was late. Very late.” 1 likes
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