No Place of Refuge by Ausma Zehanat Khan #BookReview #BlogTour

Amid a global crisis, one woman searches for justice…

The Syrian refugee crisis just became personal for Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty.  

NGO worker Audrey Clare, sister of Khattak’s childhood friend, is missing.

In her wake, a French Interpol Agent and a young Syrian man are found dead at the Greek refugee camp where she worked.

Khattak and Getty travel to Greece to trace Audrey’s last movements in a desperate attempt to find her. In doing so, they learn that her work in Greece had strayed well beyond the remit of her NGO…

Had Audrey been on the edge of exposing a dangerous secret at the heart of the refugee crisis – one that ultimately put a target on her own back?
No Place of Refuge is a highly topical, moving mystery in which Khan sensitively exposes the very worst and best of humanity.
Fans of the series will love this latest instalment. 

I'm thrilled to be hosting the very special Khattak and Getty blog tour today. As well as a review of the latest book in the series, No Place of Refuge, I will also be sharing excerpts from my reviews of the previous novels. I'm a huge fan of Ausma Zehanat Khan's writing and would like to thank her, No Exit Press and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

No Place of Refuge opens with an ominous prologue set on the Greek island of Lesvos. Audrey Clare - the close friend of Esa Khattak's younger sister, Ruksh, and the sister of Esa's own best friend, Nathan - has been on the island for four months, assisting Syrian refugees through her NGO, Woman to Woman. By the end of the prologue, Audrey is in trouble; as the book progresses, readers have the benefit of knowing a little more about what happened to her but exactly what occurred isn't revealed until much later.

Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty could be forgiven for thinking that life was going to be a little easier for them after a tumultuous few years. The pair are even invited to a state dinner where they meet the new prime minister. Although he is never actually named, I don't think readers would be far wrong in assuming he is based on Justin Trudeau. A parliamentary inquiry regarding a previous case has finally exonerated Khattak of any wrongdoing and the prime minister offers proper ministerial support to Esa and Rachel's complex Community Policing portfolio, something which has been lacking up till now. However, what should be a thoroughly pleasant evening is suddenly spoiled when a worried Nathan Clare arrives to seek Khattak's help, announcing that Audrey is missing.

Although the case would ordinarily be outside of Khattak and Getty's remit, the prime minister has officially approved their involvement; Rachel swiftly realises that news about a prominent Canadian's sister disappearing while helping refugees resettle would seriously undermine the goodwill shown towards the country's Syrian refugee program. The Canadian response to little Aylan Kurdi's tragic death was to demand that more was done to alleviate the crisis, with an outpouring of support for the resettlement of refugees in Canada although there are still the familiar dissenting voices, who are quick to conflate the terms 'migrant' and 'refugee' and provoke the fear of terrorism whenever possible. The global refugee crisis has always been politicised and so it's not surprising that the Government would want Audrey's disappearance solved as soon as possible. This is obviously going to be a difficult case for Esa, due to his personal involvement and it doesn't become any easier when it transpires that Interpol are also involved as Audrey may be implicated in the death of one of their agents. Rachel also feels personally involved - she and Nathan had grown close previously and she can't help but empathise with his fears, having spent many years looking for her missing brother.

Esa and Rachel travel to Lesvos in an attempt to uncover the truth and it's a journey which later takes them into Turkey and France as they try to trace Audrey's movements. As they visit the various camps on the island, both form bonds with the refugees and volunteers they meet. Esa is simultaneously accepted as a man who looks very much like one of the Afghan refugees and feared as a policeman and Rachel is shocked by the scale of the suffering she witnesses, responding in her usual manner by becoming involved in the rescue missions on the beach. Since the destruction of the Calais Jungle, we don't see the truth before our eyes on the nightly news as often and so the vivid descriptions of the camps are an important reminder of the dreadful conditions in these places. The close professional and personal partnership between Khattak and Getty endures as always but both must confront their feelings regarding complicated relationships during the course of the novel as what they see and learn has a profound impact on them and what they find goes far beyond a straightforward investigation into a missing young woman.

All the novels in this outstanding series have each touched me deeply but perhaps none have resonated quite as strongly as No Place of Refuge. My brother has worked with young refugees for many years, supporting them both in this country and in the camp formerly known as the Calais Jungle. We've had many discussions about the desperate need for more to be done, especially regarding dangers facing young people and children who have become displaced from their homes and families. I believe that the refugee crisis is one of the most urgent and important issues we currently face.

Ausma Zehanat Khan understands that there are no easy solutions and she doesn't avoid the more difficult issues, recognising that anywhere that sees a mass of humanity -  perhaps especially in places where hope and desperation are equally as prevalent - will see the best and worst of people. Throughout the book, she explores the distressing reasons why people are forced to leave their homes and the dangers they face on their journeys - whether from the harsh environment or from unscrupulous opportunistic smugglers and depraved traffickers with an honest and penetrating clarity. I defy anybody to read certain scenes here without being moved to tears as the barbaric atrocities inflicted on Syria's citizens are laid bare. The language is necessarily unflinching and although I had some knowledge of the human rights atrocities committed by Assad's regime, to see it made personal is tremendously moving. In a world where refugees are often discussed as a faceless mass, by focusing on a young man's heartbreaking story, she succeeds in reminding us that every displaced person is an individual in their own right.

No Place of Refuge is the book I would like to place in the hands of those who question why so many boys and young men are in the camps and believe that they should stay in their own country and fight or that other countries should continue to house them while Fortress Europe remains closed. I hope it makes people angry because we should be furious; at the regime which targets its own civilians in hospitals, clinics, schools and hospitals with barrel bombs, cluster munitions, mortars, artillery and chemical weapons and has carried out acts of torture and murder in its prison system on an industrial scale; and at the governments and organisations who refuse to help, consigning untold numbers to a terrifying death by drowning and when they have the opportunity to offer sanctuary to those most in need, fail to even provide refuge for more than a tiny number of unaccompanied minors, resulting in tens of thousands of children going missing. Harrowing, illuminating and powerful, No Place Of Refuge gives a voice to those denied it and is truly a book for our times.

No Place of Refuge is published in the UK by No Exit Books, purchasing links can be found here.

If you haven't already discovered the wonderful Khattak and Getty series, perhaps I can persuade you to also check out the previous stories too.

The Unquiet Dead

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... (full review)

The Language of Secrets

As a thriller it really is edge of the seat stuff that had me racing through the the pages. It's also a beautifully written book. the poetry woven throughout a timely reminder that Islam is far more than both the likes of Isis and the far right would have us believe.  The Language of Secrets is an uncompromising book, featuring an intelligent and clear headed examination of our historical legacy, and of the political, religious and social attitudes that affect us all... (full review)

Among the Ruins

In these times of fake news, Among The Ruins is a timely reminder that the power of journalism is perhaps best recognised by those who most seek to censor it and the novel is a poignant eulogy to the journalists, students, human rights activists, artists, religious and ethnic minorities and more who form the ranks of political prisoners in Iran and beyond... (full review)

Don't miss the rest of the Khattak and Getty blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Ausma Zehanat Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with a specialisation in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. She has practised immigration law and taught human rights law at Northwestern University and York University. Formerly, she served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine, the first magazine to reflect the lives of young Muslim women. Her debut novel, The Unquiet Dead, won the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel. She is a longtime community activist and writer. Born in Britain, Ausma lived in Canada for many years before recently becoming an American citizen. She lives in Colorado with her husband.
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  1. This is amazing, thanks so so much for supporting the blog tour Karen xx


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