The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Review.

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About the Book

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.

My Review

Up until a few years ago I had never read any books like this. By that I mean the books that are crime fiction but also break your heart. The majority of the books that I had read regarding the atrocities of war  were committed during WW2. The Unquiet Dead which is based around  events that occurred in 1995, 50 years later, show that nothing had changed. Men, women and children losing their lives due to ethnic cleansing. I remember the events that happened in the former Yugoslavia. I had seen reports on the news regarding the war crimes trials. But none of those reports or most of the earlier reviews I had read about this novel prepared me for how devastating I would find parts of it. Mainly anything that was written in italics was distressing, especially if you did, like I did, which was to read the explanation at the back.
Whilst these parts were important to the novel they didn’t impact on the storyline concerning why Christopher Drayton fell to his death. Nobody appeared to know his true identity, everybody who was connected to him thought his death was an accident but the detectives weren’t convinced. They had a dilemma though, if it was retribution should the culprit suffer more by going to prison.
Both of the detectives had troubled personal lives, some of which isn’t revealed. There was mention of a previous case, which made me think I had missed a book, but this is labeled as book one. Esa, especially is an enigma. his character is very complex and at times I did struggle to connect to him. Rachel, though, I liked immediately.  Another character I really liked was Hadley. Her relationship with the repulsive ‘Mad Mel’ and her devotion to her father and sister was wonderful to read.
It was a book that I needed to read in complete silence. I needed to soak up every word and feel every emotion, whether it be anger, guilt or sadness. Parts are devastating to read but there was also humour from Hadley and loyalty from Nate and Audrey.
A different novel for me but one that I am glad I read and I am eagerly looking forward to reading the second book in the series soon.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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