Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Minotaur Books, 336 pages, $25.99 (release date - 2/2/2016)

“The Language of Secrets” is the follow-up to “The Unquiet Dead,” a moving portrayal of the atrocities visited on Muslims in Srebrenica. Inspector Esa Khattak returns as the tenuous head of the Toronto Community Policing Section. His assistant, Rachel Getty, is still as feisty and dedicated, dedicated to being the courageous and humane police officer her father was not, and dedicated to being a loyal and committed member of the CPS.

Although Khattak is on an occupational tightrope because of the circumstances of “The Unquiet Dead,” he is called in to work on the murder of an old friend in the cold winter woods of a Canadian park. What muddles the icy waters is a purported link to terrorist activities in his friend’s mosque. Surprisingly, his friend turns out to have been an undercover agent trying to prevent an attack. So who killed him? 

Rachel is the one who goes undercover in the same mosque, pretending to be interested in converting. Khattak, as a high-profile detective, is too well-known to the attendees to be a mole. His personal life becomes entangled in the case early on when it is revealed that his willful, beautiful sister is romantically involved with the suspected leader of the terrorist cell.

As with the first book, the strength of the second book lies in its depiction of the Muslim world struggling for identity in a non-Muslim country. As Ausma Zahanat Khan says in her afterword, “There is no inherent connection between Islam and terrorism, despite the rash of events that appear to link the two. Like all religions, Islam is multi-vocal, and there are different interpretations of Islam available to its practitioners….” This is certainly worth remembering in light of recent real terrorist activities done in the name of Allah. For people not knowledgeable about Islam, Khan serves as an educator.

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