Joanne’s Mystery Picks

91rqgzfswjlA Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, Community Policing detectives, are sent to the scene of a mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec. Acting as liaisons with the community, they are there to help temper the fear of the residents while dealing with a vicious campaign of racism which has been launched on social media and exploited by a right-wing radio host. So many fingers are pointing in so many different directions. Who are the perpetrators of this horrific crime? And who is shadowing Khattack, watching and knowing his every move? Does it have anything to do with the shooting, or is it something personal?

Khan has brought to the page a story that we have seen played out in far too many communities around the world (most recently in Christchurch, New Zealand). Her depiction of the events in this novel are every bit as gripping, heart-wrenching, and horrifying as those we’ve seen on TV on the evening news.

Such violence can only create greater rifts between the different factions in this community, and while Esa and Rachel work to prevent further escalation of these rifts, their relationship as partners is put to the test.

This is by far, Khan’s best book yet in this series.

5 Daggers
Joanne gives this “5 daggers out of 5”.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

29758015THE HOUSE OF FOUR by Barbara Nadel

The old Mansion in Istanbul, known as the Devil’s House, would appear to be living up to its name.  Inspector Ikmen has been called to the scene because a body has been found.  When further examination of the premises finds three more bodies, all murdered in the same manner, Ikmen begins the lengthy investigation into the Hanim family and all of its secrets.  For it’s always the secrets that will eventually lead to the murderer.

Meanwhile, Mehmet Suleyman is investigating a series of apparent random killings throughout Istanbul.  The victims themselves appear to be random, but the perpetrators seem to be the same in each case.  As he investigates, his tumultuous personal life begins to get in the way of the job and he becomes distracted and a little careless.

Nadel’s descriptive style easily makes her readers feel that they are right there – walking the dusty streets of Istanbul, perusing the stalls in the Grand Bazaar – as the heat beats down relentlessly.  It’s armchair travelling at its best and includes a cracking good mystery to boot!

34953093A DANGEROUS CROSSING by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Khan brings the Syrian refugee crisis to the page with this powerful story featuring Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty.  Khattak’s childhood friend Nathan Clare asks for his help in locating his sister, Audrey, who has disappeared in Greece.  She’s been working to fast-track Syrian refugees to Canada through an NGO, but has vanished, leaving behind two murdered people.

Esa and Rachel are shocked at the conditions in the refugee camps and fear that Audrey may have been in possession of information that has put her life in danger.  Their search for Nathan’s sister takes them from Greece all the way to the Netherlands, and throughout their journey the question always comes back to them: who can they really trust?

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

9781770899568The Couturier of Milan
b
y Ian Hamilton

Ava Lee is at her best in this new tale by Ian Hamilton.  Ava and her partners in the Three Sisters come to the attention of the famous fashion guru, Dominic Ventola when one of their investments – the PO fashion line – is showcased at London Fashion Week.  Ventola is more than impressed and offers to buy the Three Sisters’ stake in the company.  Ava and her partners are not ready to give up control of this line and decline his offer.

Ventola is someone that you do not say no to and he lashes out, making derogatory comments to the Press about this collection, causing many of their customers to pull their orders.

While Ava and her partners fight with guile and cunning to regain their customer base, Ventola retaliates with intimidation and violence.   Having Xu on her side, Ava enters a tug-of-war between opponents in the fashion industry, leading to a dangerous situation when powerful crime syndicates become involved.

More a thriller than a mystery, this novel takes us from Toronto, to Hong Kong, to Milan on an incredibly fast-paced and exciting journey.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51SeB0RDm9L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAmong the Ruins
by Ausma Zehanat Khan

After the events that took place in The Language of Secrets Esa Khattak takes a much needed holiday.  He travels to Iran where he connects with his heritage but a holiday of “r and r” is not to be.  He’s approached by a Canadian government agent asking him to investigate the death of a Canadian-Iranian film-maker –  Zahra Sobhani – who was murdered at the infamous Evin prison.  Now if this sounds familiar it’s because Khan’s inspiration for her character, Zahra, was inspired by the real-life murder of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photojournalist who was murdered outside Evin in 2003.

Khattak is thrust into the politics of the country and is quickly aware of the danger to himself, personally, as he continues his investigation.  Calling on his partner, Rachel Getty back home in Canada, she unearths a possible conspiracy linked to old murders, the Shah of Iran and the Royal Ontario Museum.

This book is rich in language and imagery and provides us with a window into the corruption and fear that surround the regime of this country.

Joanne’s Mystery Picks

15751561Last Bus to Woodstock: The 1st Inspector Morse Mystery by Colin Dexter

There’s always a danger when reading the books that a TV series is based on that one will prefer the TV program to the books and that the actors on the program will not “fit” with the characters in the book. That danger doesn’t exist with the first Morse book. For Morse, in Dexter’s first book in this series, is so very different from the Morse portrayed on TV by John Thaw that it’s easy to treat the book and the TV series as completely separate entities. Yes, there are commonalities between the Morses: their love of Wagner, crossword puzzles, and the “occasional” pint, but there the similarities seem to end. Dexter’s Morse is not so self-assured; he second-guesses himself and waffles between the obvious and the obscure. When a young woman is found murdered in the car park of a pub, Morse determines that a sexual predator is at large and that the public is in danger. But with each lead dismissed, Morse struggles to make sense of the crime, believing that it needs to be seen in a different light. We see a small part of the private Morse and get a brief glimpse of his vulnerability. One of the more shocking aspects of this novel is the attitude that the characters have to the crime. Such an attitude would not be tolerated today, but then this book was published in 1975, when that was the status quo. It will be interesting to see if “book vs TV series” continues to be as dissimilar as this first instance as I work my way through the rest of the novels. One thing is for certain and that is that I liked the book equally as well as the TV program that was based on it.

 

languageThe Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Detective Esa Khattak and his partner Detective Rachel Getty of Canada’s Community Policing Section are thrust into the center of a terrorist cell that is planning an attack on New Year’s Day.  Khattack’s friend, Mohsin Dar, working as an informant for INSET, Canada’s national security team, has been killed while investigating this cell.  With Rachel undercover in the mosque that houses the cell, Khattak works the periphery, gathering what information he can to identify the target of the attack.

Family plays a prominent role in this novel.  The members of the cell must work together as a family to achieve their goal and Esa, as head of his family, must act harshly at times, to guarantee the safety of his.

Khan’s beautiful writing can make us shiver as she describes Rachel’s trek across the snowy sidewalk and warm us all the way through as Rachel takes her first sip of a cup of steaming hot chocolate.

The author has given us a wonderfully intense mystery, layered with compassion, forgiveness ,and acceptance and characters who speak to our humanity.