'Outstanding' New York Times 'Gripping' Associated Press 'Powerful' Publishers Weekly
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.
Winner of the Barry Award, Arthur Ellis Award, and Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel
'A debut to remember and one that even those who eschew the genre will devour in one breathtaking sitting' - LA Times
'Khan s device of inserting descriptions of events during the massacre, drawn from evidence given by survivors to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is effective in recreating its horrors [...] The emotional tsunami always created by the description of those horrific few days, in which the Bosnian Serb Army committed genocide while the European peacekeepers looked on, is as strong as in anything I have read about Srebrenica, in fiction or non-fiction...' - Peter Murphy, creator of the Ben Schroeder series and former counsel at the ICTY.
'Compelling and challenging, this is a beautifully written and powerful story of inhumanity and justice' - Leigh Russell, bestselling author of the DI Geraldine Steel series
'A tale of rich complexity... intricately woven, delicately revealed' - Luke McCallin, author of The Ashes of Berlin
I am absolutely delighted to be the host for today's leg of The Unquiet Dead's blog tour. I was intrigued by this book even before I knew what it existed, thanks to a clever marketing campaign by publishers No Exit Press. Several books bloggers received strangely threatening postcards as you can see...
I was even more excited when I received a copy of the book and read the description, it was as if the book had been hand picked for me! I was engrossed from the very start as it was immediately obvious that this would be a book that sensitively yet uncompromisingly examines the importance of identity, history and culture. Ausma Zehanat Khan has created a fascinating character in Esa Khattak, head of the Community Policing Unit, charged with investigating culturally sensitive cases. He is a principled Muslim, dedicated to his faith and to his job. However, could his personal experiences and previous relationships affect his investigation into a sensitive and potentially explosive case? His junior colleague Rachel Getty, is the perfect foil, she too is driven and complex, but is more than capable of following her own path when she feels her boss has allowed his history to cloud his instincts. Despite their differences their relationship is built on mutual respect and the glimpses into a past case are a lovely touch and only made me want to know more about the pair. The other characters in the book are just as nuanced and compelling, their motivations behind their actions gradually revealed as the book progresses.
The mystery itself has an almost Agatha Christie feel to it, a dead man who may have been living under an alias and perhaps scores of people who wanted him dead - this alone would make for a deliciously involving novel but it's the reason behind the crime that elevates this book into something so compelling and unforgettable.
The Unquiet Dead may be a fictional story but it has at its heart the devastating real life events that occurred in Bosnia between 1992-1995, starting with the siege of Sarajevo and eventually leading to the ultimate atrocity of the Srebrinica massacre. This was a genocide of unrelenting brutality and ferocity and yet as men, women and children were starved, tortured, raped and murdered it felt to them that the world just seemed to watch. The Unquiet Dead is brimming with justifiable bitterness and anger at the suffering, the sheer magnitude of the atrocities and the feeling that what occurred there is still not largely acknowledged and has not really entered our universal consciousness as it should.
This is a truly stunning debut novel, a poignant, uncompromising look at tragedy and humankind's capacity for evil. This isn't a book about forgiveness, it's about the need for justice and retribution and as such it's far from an easy read. Nevertheless it is utterly absorbing, to read something so intelligent and powerful is very special, The Unquiet Dead is an extraordinary book. I urge you to read it, and to ensure you read the author's notes at the end of the book, you owe yourself and the victims of that appalling genocide the extra insights Ausma Zehanat Khan has provided here.
Many thanks to the author, publishers and Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. You can follow the rest of the tour here:
The Unquiet Dead is published in the UK by No Exit Press, find them on Twitter as @noexitpress and follow Ausma Zehanat Khan there as @AusmaZehanat. Her website is here.
About the Author
Ausma Zehanat Khan is the author of The Unquiet Dead, winner of the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel.
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.