Skip to main content

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

The Unquiet Dead is both Ausma Zehanat Khan's debut novel and the first book in a series starring Sgt. Rachel Getty and Inspector Esa Khattak of Canada's Community Policing Section.  In this installment Getty is much more the star; the reader is privy to her thoughts, family drama, etc. and the story is largely told from her third person perspective.  While this story is both an engrossing and disturbing read that becomes a page turner, the characters and overarching story itself isn't one that will pull me back for the next installments.

When a man named Christopher Drayton falls to his death from the bluffs by his house, Khattak is asked by a friend at the Department of Justice to ascertain whether or not the man's death was indeed an accident.  For Drayton is not who he says he is, and the first order of business in the investigation is to prove the man's true identity.  Drayton, a Serbian war criminal living in hiding in Canada under an assumed name, was a man many in the local Bosnian immigrant community wanted brought to justice for his crimes and role in the ethnic genocide of the Bosnian Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990's.  Thus, there may be many (many) suspects if the man's fall was not an accident.

The investigation turns up many secrets as well as other people also living under new names who would have motives to want Drayton dead.  However, evidence proving his death was anything but an accident is non-existent even as Khattak and Getty prove that the man living as Drayton was indeed Drazen Krstic, a depraved war criminal whose appetites remain perverted.  Complicating the investigation is the culmination of Getty's years long search for her missing brother as well as Khattak's ill-advised attraction to a museum curator/librarian who may be more involved in the mystery than initially believed.  There's also the reappearance in Khattak's life of a long estranged friend seeking reconciliation.

By novel's end Khattak mostly remains an enigma and frustratingly blind to the folly of his attraction to the museum curator and its effects on the investigation.  Khan weaves actual quotes from witness testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to illuminate the horrors of the genocide perpetrated on the Bosnian Muslim people.  This story is very much haunted and rooted in the slaughter that took place an ocean away and two decades ago.

Programming note: As we wrap up this year, we'll be opening the new year with posts that list our Staff Picks from 2016.  You can look for those posts on Thursdays in January!

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Broken by Karin Slaughter

Before I begin the formal review there are a few things I need to get off my chest in the wake of finishing this book; I'll do so without giving away too many (or any) spoilers.
The OUTRAGE!: the identity of Detective Lena Adams' new beau; the low depths to which Grant County's interim chief has sunk and brought the police force down with him; agent Will Trent's wife, Angie's, sixth sense/nasty habit of reappearing in his life just when he's slipping away from her. Thank God for small miracles though because while Angie was certainly referred to during the book, the broad didn't make an appearance. One sign that I've become way too invested in these characters is that I'd like to employ John Connolly's odd pair of assassins, Louis and Angel, to contract out a hit on Angie; do you think Karin Slaughter and John Connolly could work out a special cross over?
Hallelujah: Dr. Sara Linton and agent Will Trent are both back. There is no hallelujah for…

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

When the end came, it seemed to do so completely out of the blue, and it wasn't until long afterward that I was able to see that there was a chain of events leading up to it. Some of those events had nothing to do with us, the Morrisons, but were solely the concern of the Pyes, who lived on a farm about a mile away and were our nearest neighbors." from page seven
I must confess that it took me longer than it really needed to in order to finish the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. The entire story is building up to the big catastrophe that forever destroys all the hopes and dreams the Morrison clan ever dared to hope and dream for its future. In the eyes of the narrator, it is even worse than the tragedy of the car crash that claimed both parents' lives one evening on the heels of some good news the family has received and celebrated. Now you can see why I dreaded getting to the end of a book that drips in foreboding like nobody's business. What can be a worse tra…

In The Woods by Tana French

"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with the truth is fundamental, but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies ... and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely ... This is my job ... What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie." opening lines of In The Woods chapter 1, pages 3-4
In The Woods by Tana French, an Irish writer, is an extremely well-written and well-crafted mystery novel. The downside is that this is French's debut novel, and her website (located at http://www.tanafrench.com/) does not offer any insi…