About The Unquiet Dead
One man is dead.
But thousands were his victims.
Can a single murder avenge that of many?
Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak, head of the Community Policing Unit, and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton's role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when the victim is a man with so many deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?
In this important debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.
Winner of the Barry Award, Arthur Ellis Award, and Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel
My review of The Unquiet Dead
I feel completely inadequate to write this review, as my words will not be able to express how beautiful, brutally honest and powerful this book is. It is an engaging and emotional read. It is a story that simply needs to be told.
The Unquiet Dead, set in Toronto, Canada, focuses upon the suspicious death of Christopher Drayton, whose body is found at the bottom of the Scarborough Bluffs. Detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are called in to lead the investigation into his death. What seems an apparent accident, soon becomes something more sinister, as it is found that Christopher took an active role in the 1995 Serebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims. With thousands of victims, was Christopher killed? and if so, then who killed him?
The Unquiet Dead is very much a detective novel, in the sense that Esa and Rachel search for a potential murderer, if in fact Christopher was murdered. But for me, this novel is so much more than this. It is a detective novel in the sense that justice needs to be served for the thousands of Muslims who were tortured, raped and persecuted during the Serebrenica atrocities. THAT is what this book is all about.
I remember reading the news headlines and watching the news reports on television during 1995. I was in my second year at University and although shocked, sickened and appalled at what was going on, the events that were happening at that time were so far away from home, that I felt distanced from them. This book brings the horrors of the Serebrenica genocide to life. The thousands of Bosnian Muslims are given life, their stories told, they are made real to me. This is through the characters and the stories that they tell, as well as the opening quote given to each chapter, from survivors, from doctors and official government letters. These quotes are haunting, the dead are no longer quiet and for me, this is the real meaning of this book. The victims are given a voice.
It was also so refreshing to read a different type of detective story, one with a moral compass. Do we feel pity for Christopher? Should his killer be found? Has a kind of justice been served? This book questions our own moral compass. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak brings much insight and emotion to this story. I saw through his eyes and began to understand more about what it must have been like to live through the Serebrenica genocide.
The Unquiet Dead is a work of fiction that focusses upon real life tragedy. This is not an easy read, nor is it meant to be. This is such an important book. It is an unforgettable book, and one that will stay with me for a very long time.
The Unquiet Dead is published on 27 July by No Exit Press. It can be found on Amazon here.
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