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 Quercus, July 2013. ISBN:
Abdullah Khan, a young solicitor, and his
newly-pregnant wife, Nasreen, have bought and are renovating a near-derelict
house in London’s East End.
Nasreen befriends John, a homeless ex-soldier traumatised by his experiences in
whom she finds living in their wildly overgrown garden but dares not tell
Abdullah. But when John is found dead in the nearby old Jewish cemetery Nasreen
fears that Abdullah, with his ultra-traditional Islamic values, may have found
about John and may have been responsible for his death. So she consults the
Arnold Detective Agency, run by ex-policeman Lee Arnold and the widowed Mumtaz
Hakim, knowing that as a Muslim woman Mumtaz will be sympathetic. Nasreen,
using as a pretext a curious little canister with an old photograph which she
has found in the house, asks Mumtaz to look into the house’s history, hopes to
find out more about Abdullah’s own background and family about which he is
extremely reticent, strangely so for someone from the South Asian community,
and about his employers. Another investigation that Mumtaz is undertaking is
for Ayesha Mirza (herself white but married to an Asian) who fears that her
sister Wendy is being drawn into prostitution by her rackrenting landlords,
Sean and Marty Rogers, violent and vicious thugs who run a prostitution racket.
But Mumtaz herself has problems: Naz Sheikh who killed Mumtaz’s husband is
still persecuting her with financial extortion and threats of violence against
her and her daughters. So Mumtaz, who knows rather more about her husband’s
death than she ever told the police, is in dire economic straits, and Lee,
guessing this, would like to assist.Meanwhile Lee has been asked by former (but still scary) gangster Brian
Green, an ‘uber-Brit, half-man, half bulldog, all malice’, to establish whether
or not his young wife is unfaithful. And Lee’s former colleague and occasional
bed-partner, DI Vi Collins, is investigating John’s death and the skeleton
found with him. And she, like Lee, would dearly like to put an end to the Rogers’ activities.
instalment of the Hakim and Arnold series is just as vivid and compelling as
the first, although, with its depiction of the violence and cruelty of the
organised crime gangs who coerce women into the sex trade and the underlying
decades-old criminality of the East End, rather darker in tone. The several
story strands, reaching from the present-day into the horrors of the Holocaust,
are expertly knotted together, some of which will plainly re-emerge in future
Hakim and Lee novels. Lee, with his West Ham supporting mynah bird, is a real
Londoner, East End born and bred, sharp-witted yet sympathetic, and Mumtaz,
troubled yet caring, are characters I would like to see more of. . . if not this year then next. Please.
Reviewer: Radmila May
Nadel’s previous Hakim and Arnold
story: A Private Business. She has also published 14 titles in the
Inspector Ikmen series (set in Istanbul), and 4
in the Hancock series (set in wartime London).
Barbara Nadel was
born in the East End of London. She rained as an actress, and used to work in
mental health services. She now writes full time and has been a visitor to Turkey for over
twenty years. She received the Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger for her
novel Deadly Web.