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We were huge fans of Ausma Zehanat Khan’s The Language of Secrets; thus, it’s a pleasure that Among the Ruins, the third novel featuring Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, measures up. It’s beautifully written, has tight characterisation and plot, a great evocation of place and, more to the point, it’s relevant.

The book opens with Khattak on leave from the Canadian Community Policing Section. He’s in Iran, where he’s taking in the culture and reflecting on his life thus far and his last case. Despite trying to fly beneath the radar, he knows he’s being watched but not, as he’s suspected, by the government (at least at this point). A Canadian agent makes contact, forcing him to investigate unofficially the brutal murder of an esteemed Canadian–Iranian filmmaker who had been trying to free her step-daughter from prison. At great personal risk, Khattak finds himself embroiled in the case and the more general issue of the treatment of political dissidents in the country, while, back home in Canada, partner Getty and old friend Nathan provide essential support.

Intelligently written, Among the Ruins seamlessly melds political, cultural and religious issues while tackling important topics pertinent to our world today. It’s a very good read and further secures Khan’s place, in the crime fiction arena, as a writer to watch.

 

 

Among the Ruins | Ausma Zehanat Khan | No Exit |

24 January 2019 | paperback | £8.99 |

 

Music to read to: The Close Up theme (1990), Abbas Kiarostami

Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the virtual book tour. Many thanks to the wonder that is Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) and to the publisher for supplying a review copy and the cover image. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

 

See also:Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets’; ‘Changeling’; ‘Remembrance of things past: The Old You’; ‘RO Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘We should all be feminists’; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers‘; ‘Staalesen;s Big Sisters, a nod to Chandler‘; ‘Valley of the Dolls, 50 years on‘; ‘Mallory an old-style hero – It Happens in the Dark by Carol O’Connell’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; ‘The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;Teresa Solana’s darkly funny Catalan noir – women in translation‘; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘Ian Ridley: The Literary Shed Q&A;Johana Gustawsson’s Keeper – indie publisher Orenda does it again‘; ‘I am have agony, half hope …‘.

Film: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) – a Billy Wilder classic?; Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); Hitchcock (2012); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956)

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