I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan, published by No Exit Press. Thank you to them for a copy of the book and to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the tour.
One man is dead.
But thousands were his victims.
Can a single murder avenge that of many?
Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak, head of the Community Policing Unit, and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton’s role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when the victim is a man with so many deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?
In this important debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.
In June, I received some slightly sinister postcards. I was a little perplexed until I saw No Exit Press written on the reverse. If I could give a prize for best publicity campaign – No Exit would win with this, hands down. But I was still none the wiser as to what the book was actually about. With such phrases as ‘This is a cat and mouse game. Now it’s your turn to play’ and ‘As you took everything from me, you asked if I was afraid’, I was expecting a book about a serial killer. And in some respects, that’s what I got but not in the form I was expecting.
Set in Canada, Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty are called in to investigate the death of a man, Christopher Drayton, who was found at the bottom of Scarborough Bluffs (large cliffs in the Toronto area). To begin with, Rachel has no idea why they’ve been called in – it doesn’t really fit with the remit of their department. But she soon discovers that her boss, Khattak, knows far more than he’s letting on. Disturbing letters found in the dead man’s safe, suggest that Christopher Drayton wasn’t the man people thought he was.
The Unquiet Dead focuses on the genocide of the Bosnian Muslims. Those two phrases on the postcards are real words that people said and formed part of the testimonies given in evidence afterwards. It’s terrible to think that this mass murder took place in my lifetime in Europe. I wonder why I didn’t know more at the time. Was there not enough press coverage or did I just not pay attention? Either way, I should have noticed more. And so should have the rest of the world. There are sections in the book that focus on that period. It was these flashbacks that captured me most, despite their horrific nature. They are incredibly moving and made for tense reading, not knowing the outcome of the people involved. Would they survive the conflict?
The rest of the book moves at a speed more akin to Inspector Morse than Line Of Duty. So if you like fast-action thrillers, then this may not be for you. This is far more thought-provoking and is written in a beautiful literary style. Of the two officers, I felt I knew Rachel Getty more by the end. Esa Khattak is still a bit elusive. But this is the start of a series so I’m sure that more will be revealed about the mysterious Inspector Khattak in due course.
Although there is now relative peace in Bosnia, I’m sure the pain runs deep. This book is like a clenched fist unfurling, allowing us to see the scars etched there. Thank you Ausma Zehanat Khan for revealing them.
To buy the book click here.
About the author
Ausma Zehanat Khan is the author of The Unquiet Dead, and winner of the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel. Her widely acclaimed second novel, The Language of Secrets, was published in 2016. Among the Ruins, her third mystery was published in the US in February 2017. She is also at work on a fantasy series, to be published by Harper Voyager, beginning in 2017. The Bloodprint is Book One of the Khorasan Archives. A frequent lecturer and commentator, Ms. Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with a research specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. Ms. Khan completed her LL.B. and LL.M. at the University of Ottawa, and her B.A. in English Literature & Sociology at the University of Toronto. Formerly, she served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine. The first magazine to address a target audience of young Muslim women, Muslim Girl re-shaped the conversation about Muslim women in North America. The magazine was the subject of two documentaries, and hundreds of national and international profiles and interviews, including CNN International, Current TV, and Al Jazeera “Everywoman”. Ms. Khan practiced immigration law in Toronto and has taught international human rights law at Northwestern University, as well as human rights and business law at York University. She is a long-time community activist and writer, and currently lives in Colorado with her husband. Author photo taken by Athif Khan. For more information visit : www.ausmazehanatkhan.com Follow her on Twitter @AusmaZehanat