Thursday, November 10, 2022

BLACKWATER FALLS, first-in-series Muslim immigrant-themed thriller

(Inspector Inaya Rahman #1)
Minotaur Books
$27.99 hardcover, available now

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: From critically acclaimed author Ausma Zehanat Khan, Blackwater Falls is the first in a timely and powerful crime series, introducing Detective Inaya Rahman.

Girls from immigrant communities have been disappearing for months in the Colorado town of Blackwater Falls, but the local sheriff is slow to act and the fates of the missing girls largely ignored. At last, the calls for justice become too loud to ignore when the body of a star student and refugee—the Syrian teenager Razan Elkader—is positioned deliberately in a mosque.

Detective Inaya Rahman and Lieutenant Waqas Seif of the Denver Police are recruited to solve Razan’s murder, and quickly uncover a link to other missing and murdered girls. But as Inaya gets closer to the truth, Seif finds ways to obstruct the investigation. Inaya may be drawn to him, but she is wary of his motives: he may be covering up the crimes of their boss, whose connections in Blackwater run deep.

Inaya turns to her female colleagues, attorney Areesha Adams and Detective Catalina Hernandez, for help in finding the truth. The three have bonded through their experiences as members of vulnerable groups and now they must work together to expose the conspiracy behind the murders before another girl disappears.

Delving deep into racial tensions, and police corruption and violence, Blackwater Falls examines a series of crimes within the context of contemporary American politics with compassion and searing insight.


My Review
: Look at that rating above. Now, listen to me: I am heartily sick of reading about men who abuse, rape, and murder girls. It's imagery I don't want in my head...real life provides more than enough examples of this disgusting, evil, inexcusable, reprehensible thinking and behavior.

Now are you more impressed that this story earned four stars from me?

Author Zehanat Khan is a talented wordsmith, and a very adept plotmonger. Her hate crime in this story is so extremely nauseating to me that I seriously thought about just not going forward with the read. A young Muslim immigrant girl's body is found crucified on the doors of a local mosque.

That was it for me. I closed the Kindle and just barely didn't delete the DRC. But, as people I know posted reviews that were equally appalled but full of praise (though sometimes they intended it to be condemnation), I thought I should pick up the read. I'm not pleased I did, but I'm glad I've read it.

I am in sympathy with Author Zehanat Khan's politics so I didn't feel it necessary to whinge about them. Her deeply felt disdain for the evangelical christian congregation in this story is short of the religion-blaming game that so many "christians" indulge in (despite their own "savior"'s injunctions not to judge others). I was pleased by that. I'd've been equally pleased had she indulged in christian bashing, though. The fact that she has Inaya ruminating on the *people* who committed this heinous act is a step up from the run-of-the-mill thriller.

The girl-posse that works together was, I suppose, fan service. It didn't make me feel any warmer towards that gynergy-celebrating stuff. It also led me to wonder if, in her authorial haste not to bash men as a whole, she hadn't rushed the possible romantic stuff she's hinting at between Inaya and Lieutenant Seif. It feels too soon to me. I want to get to know her as a person before thinking there might soon be a part-of-a-couple vibe.

More especially I want to see Inaya grow into her own powers as an investigator. This is a rookie's case. Let her get past this, move into a more confident footing, before saddling her with a man. That isn't what's going to happen, it seems, but it was an issue I felt needed to be addressed in my four-star you're beginning to see, I liked the read but wasn't mad for it. I rated it higher than my first instinct said to rate it because it's very important to make these kinds of crimes public. I don't, as said above, like reading about violence against women. I am rather fond of a fair few women and don't wish to think of this kind of horror being perpetrated on them. But it's not like it doesn't happen, and disproportionately to immigrants and women of color; swallowing down my visceral disgust for the kind of sick fuck who could conceive of this crime as an act to be brought to fruition is necessary.

We need, as a society, to have the horrible, painful conversations that are the only way to get past the us-v-them divides that animate these haters. Books, novels most especially, are the premier way to give us permission to discuss hate and its dreaful consequences. I hope a few of y'all will see that opportunity and seize it.

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