The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Giveaway – Blog Tour.

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Today I am delighted to host a giveaway for the first two books in this amazing series.  ( UK only) All you need to do is retweet my pinned tweet or share this post and I will pick a winner using a random number generator on Friday 10th August.

About the Book

A terrorist cell is planning an attack on New Year”s Day. For months, Mohsin Dar has been undercover, feeding information back to the national security team. Now he”s dead.

Detective Esa Khattak, compromised by his friendship with the murdered agent, sends his partner Rachel Getty into the unsuspecting cell. As Rachel delves deeper into the unfamiliar world of Islam and the group”s circle of trust, she discovers Mohsin”s murder may not be politically motivated after all. Now she”s the only one who can stop the most devastating attack the country has ever faced.

The Unquiet Dead author Ausma Zehanat Khan once again dazzles with a brilliant mystery woven into a profound and intimate story of humanity.

You can see my review for The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan here

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Judge Walden Back In Session by Peter Murphy – Blog Tour Review

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About the Book

Judge Walden is back, to preside over five new cases at Bermondsey Crown Court.

Retired resident judge Peter Murphy takes us back to the world of criminal trials in South London for another session with Charlie Walden keeping the peace between his fellow judges Marjorie, Legless and Hubert while fighting off the attacks of the Grey Smoothies, the civil servants who seem intent on reducing the court s dwindling resources to vanishing point in the name of business cases and value for money .

Meet the rum and memorable characters who pop into Charlie s domain, including Lester Fogle from one of London s Disorganised Crime Families, Arthur Swivell the one-time Bermondsey singing legend and the very unbardlike Elias Shakespeare. And you will never feel the same about The Owl and the Pussycat or the Entente Cordiale again.

Fortunately, Charlie has Elsie and Jeanie s lattes and ham and cheese baps, and newspaper vendor George s witty banter, to sustain him in the mornings; and in the evenings, the Delights of the Raj, or La Bella Napoli, to enjoy with the Reverend Mrs Walden.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.When I read a novella last year which introduced me to Judge Walden and all the others connected to Bermondsey Court I found it to be very entertaining so I was thrilled to be asked if I would like to read this collection.
It was like being back amongst old friends, with Charlie having to sort out all the problems that each of his trials brought as well as various other situations that occurred in the other judges courts.
There are five cases, none of which feature murder. These are the more everyday situations, robbery, smuggling and blackmail are just some of the situations we read about.
My favourite character, the Reverend Mrs Walden appears again and as before helps Charlie in a few different ways, including offering advice on battles between judges and lawyers and entertaining officials from other countries.
Very refreshing light-hearted fun and I want to read more. Still don’t fancy the daily specials though.

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Where There’s Smoke – Charlie Walden’s First Case – Walden of Bermondsey by Peter Murphy – Review.

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About the Book

When Charlie Walden took on the job of Resident Judge of the Bermondsey Crown Court, he was hoping for a quiet life. But he soon finds himself struggling to keep the peace between three feisty fellow judges who have very different views about how to do their job, and about how Charlie should do his.
And as if that’s not enough, there’s the endless battle against the ‘Grey Smoothies’, the humourless grey-suited civil servants who seem determined to drown Charlie in paperwork and strip the court of its last vestiges of civilisation.
No hope of a quiet life then for Charlie, and there are times when his real job – trying the challenging criminal cases that come before him – actually seems like light relief.

My Review

I would like to thank the publisher for the copy received.
I read a lot of crime fiction, some of which is court based, but I have never read a book where the main character is a judge. Where There is Smoke is the first of six cases that features Charlie and I enjoyed every minute of it. Whilst there is the storyline featuring the case, which involves an arson attack on a church, I felt that the aim of this novella was to introduce the reader to all of the different characters which feature.
All of the judges have differing views on how their job should be done and what sentences should be given. Charlie is the one who decides which judge gets which case and also has to answer to the ‘grey smoothies’ who are intent on making the job harder than it need to be. As well as the court staff we also get to meet Charlie’s wife, the Reverend. I expect to see quite a lot of her in future books and it is easy to see who wears the trousers in their house.
You do see the entire case go through the court system and it is intriguing, but I enjoyed meeting everybody much more. I’m looking forward to reading the full novel soon.

The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan.

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About the Book

Detective Esa Khattak heads up Canada’s Community Policing Section, which handles minority-sensitive cases across all levels of law enforcement. Khattak is still under scrutiny for his last case, so he’s surprised when INSET, Canada’s national security team, calls him in on another politically sensitive issue. For months, INSET has been investigating a local terrorist cell which is planning an attack on New Year’s Day but their undercover informant, Mohsin Dar, has been murdered. Khattak used to know Mohsin, and he can’t let this murder slide, so he sends his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, undercover into the unsuspecting mosque which houses the terrorist cell. As Rachel tentatively reaches out into the unfamiliar world of Islam, and begins developing relationships with the people of the mosque and the terrorist cell within it, the potential reasons for Mohsin’s murder only seem to multiply, from the political and ideological to the intensely personal.

My Review

The Language of Secrets is the second book in the series to feature Esa and Rachel. While the storylines are completely different to get the full back story I strongly recommend reading The Unquiet Dead first.

Esa is asked to investigate a group that is possibly Jihadist when an old friend who was undercover is murdered. Because he is well-known in the community, after the events in previous cases, Rachel is chosen to go undercover to the group meetings. She tries to give the impression that she is lost and can get salvation from the close-knit group atmosphere and the learnings that they undertake.  She isn’t the only non-Muslim woman there. There is also Paula, an older woman who is prone to bullying but had feelings for the murdered man and Grace, a seriously messed up teenage girl.

Rachel wants to get answers, find out more about the possible attack and keep the younger members of the group out of danger. Esa is under a lot of pressure. His sister is too close to one of the leaders in the group, the father of the victim is making threats publicly against the police, mainly Esa, and he has to answer to a man who quite frankly needs a smack in the mouth  a strong talking to. There was more focus on Esa’s personal life in this book. The reader was introduced to his younger sisters, the love he felt for his dead wife and the way he lived his life and practised his religion.

I did find it an unsettling book to read. Jihadists and extremism are never far from the news and the attitudes of some in the group were hard to read, you could see the control over the younger members and how easily they could be led. Also unsettling was the approach by the officials. There were some in the investigation team who didn’t understand why Esa’s unit was there. Some of the characters who needed compassion didn’t receive it. But the good in the society were also represented, Esa being a prime example but also others on the periphery who just wanted to live their lives in peace and to be accepted. This was probably one of the hardest things to read in the novel. That the majority in Islam are peace-loving but are presumed not to be.

Even though this is a fictional novel it is based on true events. I hadn’t heard of Toronto 18 on which this novel was based.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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.