Happy publication day!
Title: A Deadly Divide
Author: Ausma Zehanat Khan
Publisher: No Exit Press
Date of publication: 6 February 2020
Format: Advance Copy
Number of pages: 381
IN A TOWN FULL OF SECRETS, WHO CAN YOU TRUST?
In the aftermath of a mass shooting in a mosque, small town tensions run high. Clashes between the Muslim community and a local faction of radical white nationalists are escalating, but who would have motive and opportunity to commit such a devastating act of violence?
Detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty from Canada’s Community Policing Unit are assigned to this high-profile case and tasked to ensure the extremely volatile situation doesn’t worsen. But when leaked CCTV footage exposes a shocking piece of evidence, both sides of the divide are enraged.
As Khattak and Getty work through a mounting list of suspects, they realise there’s far more going on in this small town than anyone first thought…
When an author sets really high standards right from the start of a series, I often wonder if they will manage to keep such a quality and balance in the long term. This fear never reaches my mind when I pick a book by Ausma Zehanat Khan.
Since The Unquiet Dead and the creation of Rachel Getty and Esa Khattack, her writing has never failed me. Neither has the accuracy and amount of research involved in all her storylines. A Deadly Divide is another hot and dangerous rollercoaster of action and emotion, the perfect stage for an acute exploration of the issues our society is faced with.
Esa and Rachel travel to a small city in Quebec after a mass shooting in a mosque. Even knowing the author always carefully picks the subjects she wants to tackle, this one took me by surprise. As a French woman with family living in Quebec, there is a special place for this territory in my heart. Yet I I realised I didn’t know enough about what goes on there. Again, this series opened my eyes and made me want to pay closer attention to our world.
Back to the story. Reading A Deadly Divide felt like listening to different hymns, low and powerful, but heard at the same time, so deafening no peace can be found. Flying above all groups so it hovers above everyone, an unbearable unease is omnipresent. A mosque was targeted, and this only rises multiple questions for which some have pre-made answers. Quickly, it becomes obvious that this terrible event is the result of turmoil in St Isidore. The top of the iceberg. The result of a disease that has spread in the city.
I remember pausing and thinking ‘How come I am reading about white supremacists, anti-Islam groups, religion gaps in 2020?’ Yet I know too well this is the world we live in, and events in the last twenty years have programmed many people to react a certain way when special words are muttered. Like terrorism. Ausma Zehanat Khan once again proved her talent by managing to explore such matters with respect, however without ever diminishing the impacts or views societies still bear on each of us.
It is obvious the shooting is going to create waves in town, so Rachel and Esa team up with local police to try and figure out what happened. For me, it was like looking at a mosaic. Rachel and Esa against their colleagues. The Muslim community against a radical nationalist group. A town tearing itself apart because of religion… or fear? I can’t get enough of this kind of read, where my mind must keep up with what is happening while doing its best to get a better understanding of what we have become as a society. Of course, this is a work of fiction, but with real and terrifying events at its centre. It blurs the lines, for the best, and forces us to at least be aware of our surroundings.
The town is a giant cloud of secrets. Secret groups, secrets between people. Secrets within the police force. This is where the relationship between Rachel and Esa is essential. Their partnership works so perfectly that it adds this thin layer of trust that is cruelly missing all around. Their friendship felt to me like a light at the window on a winter night. No matter where they land, what they deal with, there is hope, even behind all this hate and fear. This is a beautiful message and what I always carry with me after finishing a book from the Khattak and Getty series.
As if watching a town on the brink of of burning was not enough, Ausma Zehanat Khan plants the seed for a dark and personal threat on Esa Khattak. Who is following him? What do they want? I can’t wait to get answers! The hints we get in A Deadly Divide gave me goosebumps, and I can only hope that all ends well…
A Deadly Divide is not an easy read. It is an uncomfortable one. It is a superb, terrifying, and magnificently executed observation of humankind thrown in a giant pit of all kinds of monsters and mysteries.
You can find the book by clicking on the cover below.
I would like to thank Anne Cater and the publisher for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. This review is my unbiased opinion.
You can read my thoughts on the previous books in the series:
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 has also written The Language of Secrets and Among the Ruins. 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.