15 May / The Last Taxi Ride: A Ranjit Singh Novel by A.X. Ahmad
While Ranjit Singh’s trimming days as The Caretaker might have been left behind on Martha’s Vineyard, he can’t escape for long from the corruption and intrigue in the murderous lives of the power-elite. In the second installment of A.X. Ahmad‘s label-defying trilogy, Ranjit reinvents himself as a seasoned New York City cabbie, now divorced and living solo in a Queens basement. He’s waiting out the final three weeks until his teenage daughter Shanti arrives from India – Ranjit’s no-longer-suffering ex-wife has happily remarried – to spend a trial year with him.
One humid August afternoon, Ranjit picks up a striking woman whom he recognizes as former Bollywood megastar, Shabana Shah, whose fame has been waning in a fickle youth-worshipping industry. When he drops her off at the legendary Dakota on the Upper West Side, the doorman is initially impatient to get the cab off the posh premises. A sidewalk tussle is quickly averted when the doorman recognizes Ranjit, replacing his insults with teary open arms.
What seem like doubly fortunate coincidences too soon lands Ranjit on the wrong side of the law when Shabana is found bludgeoned in her apartment –and Ranjit is arrested. His doorman buddy, Mohan, is the only person who can clear Ranjit, but Mohan’s gone missing. More than his own freedom, Ranjit’s long-awaited reunion with his beloved daughter fuels his determination to find the real killer.
Once again, Ahmad intertwines a double narrative set some 20 years apart, seamlessly moving between the mafia-controlled glamour of Mumbai’s film industry to the invisible-in-clear-view immigrant service world of multi-culti New York City. From oversized city rats to the designer-clad two-legged variety, from Dubai mansions to hidden Chinatown backrooms, from human hair to Prada couture, Ahmad deftly lures us into another heart-thumping, multi-twisted, law-defying adventure for his good Captain Singh.