Ride or Die by Khurrum Rahman #BookReview #BlogTour

JAY QASIM is finally out of the game and trying to lay low. But then he gets news that rocks his world and drags up everything that he thought he’d left behind. Jay must break his vow never to work with MI5 again and turn to the person who sold him out. But this time he’s determined to do it on his terms.

IMRAN SIDDIQUI once tried to kill Jay but now they have a common adversary. The one thing worse than death is watching the people closest to you die. And after the happiest day of Imran’s life becomes the most tragic, he will stop at nothing to take revenge on the people that have taken away his family.

But when everyone has their own agenda, who can you really trust?
Your most deadly enemy is about to become your closest ally.

Ride or Die is an edge-of-your-seat thriller featuring MI5 most reluctant spy Jay Qasim, perfect for fans of Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb series and A.A. Dhand’s D.I. Harry Virdee thrillers.

I am honoured to be reviewing Ride or Die on its publication day and to be closing the blog tour. Huge thanks to Khurrum Rahman and Harper Collins for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the book.

It's a bittersweet day as I reach the end of my reviews for Khurrum Rahman's Jay Qasim series, knowing I now have to wait for his next book - but what a privilege it has been to read and review these fabulous thrillers.
Poor Jay. After a brief moment in time where he hoped that joining MI5 would allow him to make a difference, all he has really wanted is to live a regular life. After the shattering events in Homegrown Hero, he is finally able to take his much-needed holiday, visiting his mum in Qatar. However, his best friend, Idris arrives with news from Hounslow which shakes him to his core and he makes the immediate decision to fly back home to England. 
Being away from home meant Jay hadn't heard about the tragedy which hit the headlines and led to fights and riots. It gave the journalists another chance to print provocative, divisive headlines; it took everything from Imran Siddiqui. The attack itself isn't described in great detail but the brief summary of what happened and who caused it is devastating, with Imy's visceral pain almost too unbearable to imagine. 
Although this book is primarily about Jay and Imy, a new character, Sophia has an important role to play when she agrees to help a mysterious stranger in what is described as a 'victimless crime'. Sophia is clearly disappointed with her life and longs for more and though it's clear that she is deluding herself, I couldn't help but feel for her when she realises she has made a terrible decision. Her actions lead to shocking situation and news that eventually draws Jay and Imy together but with such a difficult history between them, it looks as if expecting them to work with one another is an impossible ask.
I'm trying hard to review Ride or Die without giving away too many spoilers from the previous novels. While there is no reason why a newcomer to this trilogy couldn't read this one as a standalone and be able to understand what brings the characters to this point, I really would encourage anybody to read the books in order to truly appreciate the emotional intensity of the series arc. 
Jay and Imy eventually agree to travel to Pakistan together, both on the search for some kind of final reckoning. The scenes in Pakistan and Afghanistan are imbued with a constant sense of tension but as always, Khurrum Rahman sprinkles the narrative with wit and humour, and here the relationship between the two men is a quintessential odd couple pairing. Imy is understandably more restrained and taciturn, his bitterness seeping out of him at times but there are moments where his lighter side is revealed which ironically makes his anguish even harder to bear. Jay is more reactionary, more excitable but he has an inner courage and a set of morals which mean his own emotions are tested to the limit. One of my favourite aspects of these books is just how emotive they are at times -  Jay, in particular is frequently shown to be shedding tears which further underlines just how believable and relatable he is as a protagonist.
On its most straightforward level this is a gripping buddy movie spy thriller with a taut, almost cinematic conclusion which is perfectly executed. However, it's also a perceptive, powerful and authentic examination of contemporary global issues and is a stark reminder of the way terror groups are built and how they adapt. It's more than even that though; Jay and Imy's experiences are beyond what most people will ever know but ultimately this outstanding novel is about the universal need for acceptance and belonging. Ride or Die is extraordinarily good and as with East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero, I urge you to read it.

Ride or Die is published by HQ, purchasing links can be found here but please support independent bookstores whenever possible.

Don't forget to check out what some of my fellow bloggers had to say about the book, details are below.

About the Author

Born in Karachi and raised in West London, Khurrum Rahman now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons. His love for films and books influenced him to start writing. A hobby at first quickly became a passion. He spent any spare time in between a full-time job and being a hands-on parent to write stories inspired by his favourite screenwriters and authors.
Khurrum has written a movie screenplay which was acquired by a Danish Film Producer, but he is now concentrating on writing novels.