Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Brothers in Blood by Amer Anwar

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:


The Golden Age of detective fiction, before Police Procedurals and hard-bitten PIs came to dominate the genre, was the era of the amateur detective. The (usually aristocratic) detective could open doors and blend in where the flatfooted policeman could only blunder around. Since then, amateur detection has largely been the preserve of latter-day Miss Marples, sniffing around the social hierarchies of English country village. In Brothers in Blood, Amer Anwar turns the concept on its head..

Zaqir Khan (known as Zaq) is an intelligent, hard-working young man who threw an unlucky punch and ended up in prison for manslaughter. Now out of prison again, he’s working in a dead-end job for a man who has most of Southall in his pocket. But when Mr Brar calls him into his office and orders Zaq to find his missing daughter, life just gets a whole lot more difficult. The Brar’s make it quite clear that if he fails, they’ll find a way of sending him back to prison. But how is he supposed to find a young woman he’s never even met? And does he want any part in forcing her into a marriage she clearly doesn’t want?

The story unfolds in the backstreets around Heathrow airport, in the Muslim and Sikh dominated communities of Southall and Hounslow. It’s Zaq’s home turf and he blends in perfectly – but that doesn’t mean he stays out of trouble.

Zaq’s best mate, Jags, is living the life Zaq was meant to have, working in IT, living in a nice house and driving a BMW. But he won’t turn his back on Zaq. Together they uncover some very nasty dealings indeed and hatch a plot to turn the villains on one  another.

Zaq and Jags are a great double act – likeable, solid and real. And Zaq, like AA Dhand’s Harry Virdee, is tough, courageous and more than able to handle himself in a fight. And if his moral code is flexible enough to allow him to survive the mean streets of Southall, nevertheless when push comes to shove, he can be relied upon to do the right thing – even at his own expense.

A page-turner filled with both action and humour. Here’s hoping we’ll be seeing more of Zaq and Jags in the future.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved:
A.A. Dhand, Dreda Say Mitchell

Avoid If You Dislike:
Blow by blow accounts of violent fist fights

Perfect Accompaniment: Aloo Paratha

Genre: Crime

Available on Amazon

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