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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Winner of the Crime Writers
Association Debut Dagger 2017
Published by Dialogue Books,
6 September 2018. ISBN: 978-0-3497-0028-1(PB)
Zaqir (Zaq) Khan, from Southall in West London, has
just come out of prison after serving a five-year sentence for manslaughter. He
needs to find a job but the only job he can find is driving a van for a firm of
building suppliers. The firm belongs to a Mr Brar, who like many of the
inhabitants of Southall, is a Sikh as are all the other employees of the firm. Apart,
that is, from Zaq who is a Muslim. For historical reasons, going back many
generations in South Asia, relations between Sikhs and Muslims are not good. So,
when Zaq is called in by Mr Brar, although he has nothing to hide, he knows
that if anyone is due to be fired, it’ll probably be him. But Mr Brar doesn’t
want to fire Zaq, he wants Zaq to find his daughter Rita who has run away from
home rather than marry the man whom her father wishes her to marry. And if Zaq
doesn’t find her, then Mr Brar will accuse him of theft which will ensure that
Zaq goes back to jail, probably for a long time. Why does Mr Brar want to get
his daughter back home? Because it is shameful for a girl to run away from
home, doubly so since she seems to have run away in the company of a Muslim
man, Kassim. And Mr Brar’s two fearsome sons, Rajinder and Parminder, will be
keeping an eye on Zaq. Or the worse for him. So Zaq agrees, hoping that if he
finds Rita he will get Mr Brar and his sons off his back and that her
punishment will not be too bloody. But where can he start to look? He turns to
his friend Jagbir (Jags) Kholi, a Sikh, and together they start to track down
Rita, but with difficulty, because she does not want to be found. The search
grows increasingly dangerous because the Brar brothers clearly have their own
agenda which involves not just Rita’s disappearance but a world of criminality.
Luckily Zaq took boxing lessons while in jail, to protect himself against the
violence which permeates British jails today and he has Jags to back him up as
well as the various mates with whom he house shares. But will Zaq and Jags come
safely through the dangers that the search has unleashed and get Rita back
under the paternal roof?
At one point I did
feel rather depressed by the picture of life in the South Asian community that
the author depicts, not by the brutal violence that the Brar brothers inflict
on their victims or the antipathy that various sub-cultures within the South
Asian community feel for each other (sadly, common enough elsewhere as anyone
who studies the world today), but by the way in which the groups insist on
sorting out their own problems themselves, never mind how. But the relationship
between Zaq and Jags is firm as is the friendship between the various young men
in his house-share: I was reminded of the long-ago sit-com, The Likely Lads. These Lads like the odd
drink, often go down to the pub or share a takeaway, josh each other all the
time, talk about girls and their (non-existent) conquests. And Rita and her friend
Nina, both pretty emancipated and not standing for any paternalistic,
authoritarian nonsense, thank you very much, indicate the way the future is
going. Right-on, sister, I said to myself, girls’ rule, okay. Well, they could
hardly make a worse mess of things than the Brar Brothers.
Recommended, with a
health warning as to the very graphic violence and lots of four-letter words.
grew up in West London. After leaving college he had a variety of jobs,
including; warehouse assistant, comic book lettering artist, a driver for
emergency doctors and chalet rep in the French Alps. He eventually landed a job
as a creative artworker/graphic designer and spent a decade and a half
producing artwork, mainly for the home entertainment industry. He holds an MA
in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London and is a winner of the
Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award. Western Fringes is his first novel.
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.