As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Sphere, 15 August 2013. ISBN:
With a title that evokes Albert
Camus’ L’Etranger, the reader immediately understands that Detective Ash Rashid
of the Indianapolis
police force sees himself – and is indeed seen by others – as on the outskirts
of the world he inhabits both professionally and personally. An ethnic minority
police officer, a Muslim who drinks alcohol, a father who is frequently absent
from his family… all these elements make Ash an outsider, giving him both
freedom – and the uncomfortable self-awareness that comes with it.
Perhaps to counteract
this, the author initially presents Ash as a little bit worthy; he feels
uncomfortable lying to his wife – not because he thinks it’s wrong but because
his religion tells him so – and yet he struggles to make it through the day
without drinking... This makes the protagonist hard to relate to at first, but
he settles into a well-rounded, conflicted character, struggling to do the
right thing in an environment whose pressures make “the right thing” difficult
to identify, let alone act on.
The narrative begins as
Ash unexpectedly receives a visit from the local mob boss, presenting him with
a gift of $5000 and the news that Cassandra Johnson, an acquaintance of Ash’s
has died. Confused, Ash sets off to find out more and discovers that, not only
is his informant correct, but that his friend has been murdered. Determined to
bring the killer to justice, his investigation leads him to the worst areas of Indianapolis where he
discovers drug dens and a witness who is murdered shortly after telling him
that the police may have been involved in Cassandra’s death.
Worried, he continues to
explore, stumbling across the unorthodox methods used by his fellow officers
via some rule breaking of his own. With the waters getting increasingly
muddied,misinformation, red herrings
and more dead witnesses block Ash's progress and he has a hard time proving his
suspicions; that the murder of Cassandra Johnson and the arrest of fellow
Muslim Thomas Rahal for drug dealing and the murder of a police officer are
somehow related and part of a larger criminal conspiracy.
Desperate, he makes
contact with some confidential informants on both sides of the legal system and
uncovers information that the courts may not want revealed...
On the surface, this is a
standard crime thriller novel where a felony is committed and our dedicated
sleuth works his socks off to solve the bring the perpetrators to justice. But
underneath the familiar and somewhat formulaic facade, this is a tale of our
times: social injustice, police corruption, convoluted financial dealings and
politicians pulling the strings behind the scenes. Wheels turn within wheels,
pushing Ash Rashid into a corner where, as is so often the case in real life,
there is no right answer.
Reviewer: Joanna Leigh
grew up in southern Indiana. After
graduate school, Chris taught courses in ethics and comparative religion at a
small liberal arts university in southern Arkansas. While there and when he really
should have been grading exams, he wrote The
Abbey, which spent sixteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller's list
and introduced the world to Detective Ash Rashid. He and his wife along
with a labrador retriever named Roy, now live near St Louis, Missouri, where Chris is working
on the next Ash Rashid novel.
Joanna Leigh studied French and German at university. She works in
the aerospace industry and is a chartered marketer in the UK. She describes herself as a
voracious reader, enjoying genres as varied as crime thrillers, historical
fiction and autobiographies. Joanna lives in London. She is the daughter of crime thriller
writer Leigh Russell.