Wednesday, 13 March 2019

East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rhaman

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

Somewhere in the territory between The Little Drummer Girl and Kingsman lies East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rhaman.

This is the story of hapless small-time drug dealer, Javid (‘call me Jay’) Qasim who, against all probability, is recruited by MI5 to infiltrate what they believe is a dangerous terrorist cell at his local mosque.

He is – apparently – the perfect candidate. At a turning point in his life. Credible as someone who could be sucked into extremism. But why did MI5 pick him over all other candidates? And why exactly is the leader of the cell so keen to have him along?

Rhaman’s MI5 is a bit shoddy and rundown – nothing like the hi-tech world of programmes like Spooks. And his terrorists are a long way from the extremist stereotypes and the bogeymen of the tabloid press. And yet the threat they pose is real enough. Will Jay be able to stop them? And at what cost to himself?

Rhaman’s world is an uneasy balance between the absurd and the all-too-probable – a reflection of our society and its fears that creates a kind of uncanny valley. You’ll laugh, and then wonder maybe if you should be laughing – and then laugh again because sometimes laughter is the best weapon against fear.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: Dear Infidel by Tamim Sadikali, Brothers in Blood by Amer Anwar, Three Lions (film).

Avoid If You Dislike: Finding humour in terrorism and counter-terrorism

Perfect Accompaniment: A pint of San Miguel

Genre: Thriller, Humour

Available on Amazon

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