Paperback Raita, William Rhode's cracking debut novel, really does have it all: "drugs, diamonds, exotic locations, sexy girl, the plan that goes horribly wrong". It also, unfortunately, has an implausible, contrived, if nonetheless still enjoyable, opening premise.
Its central character and narrator Joshua King must write a bestselling novel featuring his late father to claim his five million-pound inheritance. Joshua has never previously shown any aptitude for fiction; he's your typical English traveller in India. He's bummed about, taken drugs and once or twice scribbled an article for the Hindu Week newspaper. Of course, all that is about to change. A police drugs raid on his Delhi doss-house brings Josh into contact with the oh-so-gorgeous Yasmin. Her boyfriend James has been dragged off and slung in prison. Could the raid be the work of the mysterious Baba, a Bollywood film mogul turned drug trafficker and diamond smuggler, whom Josh believes could supply him with both a scoop for the paper and the material for his bestseller? Yasmin, Josh and his old friend Sanjay, quickly form a cunning plan to rip off Baba, free James and, with any luck, finish up with a healthy stack of cash. Easy, obviously. Murders, home cooked pakoras, heroin deals, stolen motorbikes, double-crossing dames and all manner of subcontinental plots and counter plots ensue until the whole thing judders to a fittingly post-modern conclusion.