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Sunday 29 July 2018

‘The Warehouse’ by S.S. Mausoof

Published by Hope Road Publishing,
16 March 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-908446-59-6 (PB)

Syed Qais, known as Cash, is a Karachi-based insurance adjuster. He is widowed with a daughter Shereen. He is a Muslim but moderately so. For instance, he drinks but not before sunset. Except this once, which is what, he tells us at the outset, got him into trouble when his former lover Sonia appears with a commission for him – to deal with an insurance problem arising from the burning down of a warehouse (also known as a ‘go-down’) and its contents, a large amount of cigarettes. The contents of the warehouse had been insured under a complex series of insurance and reinsurance arrangements but there is a problem: the ultimate client, a transporter named Malik Awan should claim on the insurance and he won’t because after his son was killed in a drone strike he has become fundoo, ie a fundamentalist, and such transactions are contrary to his religious beliefs.

So, Sonia has arranged for Cash to persuade Malik to take the money. There is a generous commission and Cash is tempted; his daughter wants to go to university and in present-day Pakistan money unlocks doors even in the academic world and he would like to buy a better flat for his widowed but formidable mother. And he still has feelings for Sonia – although a Catholic marriage between the two of them would be unthinkable but all the same . . . And the commission is really generous . . .  But the warehouse is in Waziristan where the ruthless Taliban has taken control and the Pakistan Army (also pretty ruthless) is fighting to regain control with the aid of U.S. airpower. So, Cash, against his better judgement, agrees and finds himself in a maelstrom of danger and betrayal.

Although the author now lives in the U.S.A. he was born in Karachi. When he spoke at the 2018 Bristol Crimefest he told us that he had even been to the troubled province of Waziristan. This gives his writing a sense of deep authenticity which other writers who choose to set novels in such locales after only a brief visit or a trip around the internet do not have. He is also writing about a society which he knows well, and this again adds to the authenticity of his writing. Cash is an attractive protagonist who doesn’t take himself too seriously. I enjoyed this book although, not knowing how big insurance contracts operate, I had to concentrate sorting out the insurance difficulties which are the trigger for the story.
Reviewer: Radmila May

S.S. Mausoof was born in Karachi, educated in the US, and is currently residing in San Francisco. He is a writer-filmmaker with multiple IMDB credits and an active fan base build upon noir films like Kala Pul and Absolution and a much-acclaimed documentary on the Indus valley civilization called In Search of Meluhha: The Story of Mohenjodaro, and he is an active member of Friends of South Asia (FOSA) an organization that works to promote peace and harmony in South Asia, a board member of the Third I South Asian film festival and a frequent commentator for KPFA radio station on events concerning Pakistan. The Warehouse is his first novel inspired by relief work in the region.

Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.

1 comment:

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