The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Description

A complex and provocative story of loss, redemption, and the cost of justice that will linger with readers long after turning the final page.

Despite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she’s still uneasy at Khattak’s tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton’s death. Drayton’s apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn’t seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak’s team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case. It soon comes to light that Drayton may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

If that’s true, any number of people might have had reason to help Drayton to his death, and a murder investigation could have far-reaching ripples throughout the community. But as Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, with no easy answers. Had the specters of Srebrenica returned to haunt Drayton at the end, or had he been keeping secrets of an entirely different nature? Or, after all, did a man just fall to his death from the Bluffs?

In her spellbinding debut, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a complex and provocative story of loss, redemption, and the cost of justice that will linger with readers long after turning the final page.

My thoughts

This is a difficult one. I avoid Holocaust fiction because it feels voyeuristic, and somehow something that horrific shouldn’t be used for the purpose of fiction. Reading this book I had the same feelings because so much of it is based on survivors’ accounts of the atrocities committed against Bosnian Muslims.

On the other hand, while the Holocaust remains prominent in everyone’s memories, the war crimes against the Bosnian Muslims, including the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, seem to have fallen by the wayside and perhaps it needs books like this to remind people of the genocide that took place.

Setting aside my feelings akin to guilt because I enjoyed the book, it is a well plotted good story and well worth the read.

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