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All booksMysteryThe Unquiet Dead
The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

The Unquiet Dead

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Ausma Zehanat Khan, on your first book!

by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Quick take

The Unquiet Dead pushes beyond the traditional detective genre by questioning who ultimately has the right to render justice when bad deeds go unpunished…

Why I love it

Book of the Month

Most crime fiction delivers conclusions that are cut and dry, "case closed" as the saying goes. The Unquiet Dead pushes beyond the traditional detective genre by questioning who ultimately has the right to render justice when bad deeds go unpunished.

On the coast of Canada, Detective Rachel Getty and her boss Esa Khattak, whose Community Policing Section specializes in maintaining good relations with the local Muslim community, are asked to investigate Christopher Drayton's accidental death that on the surface doesn't seem to warrant a police investigation. But as the pieces of Drayton's life are revealed, it becomes clear that Drayton, living under an assumed name, may have been a war criminal a leader of Europe's greatest atrocity since the Second World War.

The characters are complicated and three-dimensional, in a genre that does not often deliver such clear and lucid writing. The detectives at the center of the story have private lives that impact the work they are doing in the name of the law. Even secondary characters and quiet moments are painted in multiple layers by Ausma Zehanat Khan's poetic mastering of language: "The first fresh sails on his personal ship of joy began to unfurl. He followed her, heedless of the tension that narrowed her shoulders, shortening the smooth sweep of her neck."

The originality of this take on the crime novel is informed by Kahn's own experience as a human rights expert with a specialization in military intervention and war crimes. In addition to well-paced suspense and deft writing, the book delivers a bone-chilling account of gruesome human savagery that occurred just twenty years ago. The Unquiet Dead is a powerful exploration of loss, vengeance, and morality that will not be soon forgotten by anyone who reads it.

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