Synopsis: 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 spectres 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?
My review: This is an interesting and eye opening debut. Really thought provoking. At the time of the Bosnian crisis I wrapped up in my own misery and while I know there was an atrocity I remember it mostly as headline news rather than the full details. So as well as a gripping murder mystery I found the book to be so educational. Like WW2 these are war crimes that should never be forgotten and even in fiction it’s possible to work towards bringing knowledge. So for that thank you.
The storyline itself – a man falls to his death and as there are links to Canadian minorities (Muslim survivors of the above atrocities) Khattak is brought in to dig deeper into the dead mans life when they discover he may not be the mild mannered arts lover his neighbours believed. There are such an array of characters in here. Everyone is unique and there’s enough to want to see how they develop in future books especially with each other.. The back stories give us a break for the norm with Khattak as the link to minority groups in Canada and his terrible taste in women! And his partner Rachel Getty still living in an abusive parental household ad yet to really start to live. I found it easy to enjoy these characters despite the bleak storyline and I hope to read more.
For me personally two additional new experiences; a Muslim detective (although again despite the storyline the religion is there but doesn’t define him. And also Canada.
It started a bit slow but soon picked up pace and I managed to read it quite quickly. It’s gripping and one of the rare occasions where you really know the victim got what they deserve and do we really care whodunit?? (now there’s another thing to think about!)
So gripping, complex and thought provoking. An excellent debut
Free ARC from netgalley