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The Language of Secrets

by Ausma Zehanat Khan

The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan X
The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan
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  • Published Feb 2016
    336 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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  • Rebecca H. (Bolton, CT)
    The Language of Secrets
    Set in Canada, Ausma Zehanant Khan's second novel, the Language of Secrets, is the story of a Muslim Canadian police detective investigating the murder of his former friend,who, unbeknownst to him, is an undercover agent for Canada's federal intelligence agency, INSET. His investigation is hampered by the politics of the area, INSET agents who are concerned that his investigation will hamper their operation, and by his sister, Ruksh, who has become engaged to the main suspect, a charismatic radical. Khan's novel is fast-paced, with complex,engaging characters and intricate plotting. The subject matter is extremely timely and implicitly warns us of the danger of making facile judgments about a very complicated issue. Above all, the story grabs us from the beginning sentences and doesn't let go until the final resolution. An absorbing read!
  • Claire M. (Sarasota, FL)
    The Language of Secrets
    A post 9/11 Canadian terrorist plot brings out the political tensions within subsets of the RCMP and Muslims in the department and those connected with a local terrorist cell in a mosque in Toronto. Inspector Esa Khattak and his partner Rachel Getty become enmeshed in an investigation of murder of an informant who was also a close friend of the Inspector and whose murder highlights the political, ideological and personal motives of all involved. There are stories within stories and Khan's writing explores the poetic side of Islam as well as the jihadist and the idealists drawn in by the charisma of the mosque leader, all of which gives a more complete picture to see the enemy within.
  • Ann W. (New York, NY)
    Staying in Control
    This was a terrific book. Inspector Khattak is a very captivating and complicated character. As a Moslem man in Canada, he is portrayed with empathy and compassion. His partner, a young Canadian woman who enjoys ice hockey, is also a complex person. The novel is a slow but compelling read with numerous well drawn characters and many potential suspects.

    It is a great police procedural with very interesting detectives. Khan is a good, often lyrical writer. She writes with compassion and offers insight into complex personalities. Her portrait of the immigrant and first generation Canadian was multi-faceted and highlighted the numerous assimilation and acculturation demands. It was a great read.
  • Joyce W. (Rochester, MN)
    Suspenceful and educational
    I really enjoyed this book. The characters were well developed, and the explanations of the Muslim culture were very informative. I learned about their interpretation of the moon, their poetry, and their study groups. I have read a number of books about terrorist cells, but being told from the viewpoint of a Muslim was a unique experience. There was very good suspense without the blood and gore usually used in this type of story. I also liked that it was based on a real event. I would recommend this to a lot of my friends and plan to read his first book.
  • Karna B. (Long Beach, CA)
    The Language of Secrets
    It is rare that I am so taken by a book that I place reading it before all else. That is the case for The Language of Secrets - a compelling read. From the first chapter to the last, the pace of Khan's writing is perfect. Her subject matter, a Muslim terrorist plot, and her knowledge of police procedural work, make for an exciting, if not heart pounding, read. Khan's characters are compelling for their intelligence and warmth. I like The Unquiet Dead, but the Language of Secrets excels. Bravo!
  • Stephanie B. (Scarsdale, NY)
    well written suspense
    I was immediately drawn in to this story of intrigue. The main characters were very appealing and realistic. Detective Khattak struggles with his traditional Muslim identity which often conflicts with his strong willed sisters, an underlying sense of discrimination against Muslims by the law enforcement community and his duty to investigate other member of the Toronto Muslim community. His partner, Rachel struggles with her duty to her dysfunctional family and her own happiness and professional success.

    The duo are investigating the murder of Khattaks childhood friend who has become entangled with radical Islamists suspected of planning a terrorist attack. Khan's cast of characters run the gamut of those who are dedicated to the cause of jihad to those who get swept of with the promise of a cause or the attraction to the groups handsome and charismatic leader.

    Khattak is asked to assist with the investigation of the murder because of his ties to the Muslim community and his knowledge of customs and in this case, literature. However his Muslim identity is also the reason he is not trusted to be all the details of the case which undermines his effectiveness and demonstrates the conundrum that Khattak faces as a Muslim trying to do his job in law enforcement against other Muslims. His devotion to the cause of justice is mistrusted by both communities.

    The strength of Rachel's relationship with her boss, Detective Khattak and their ability to work seamlessly together demonstrate the authors optimism that discrimination can be overcome and that morality exists in all religions. However other aspects of the story are less optimistic and demonstrate the author's cynicism about the ability of Muslims to find acceptance and success due to the deep seated suspicions of Muslims.

    The plot is engrossing from the start and provides twists and red herrings that keep you guess till the end. The literary references ("language of secrets") are a great insight into the Muslim traditions and make this book more than just a mystery.
  • Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)
    The Language of Secrets: Murder/Mystery = Candy
    Another detective has joined the growing crew of new sleuths, including Armand Gamache in modern Quebec, Canada; Li Du in old China; and Guido Brunetti in Venice, Italy. Here we have Esa Khattak in modern Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Khattak's unique police department, Community Policing Section, is called in for its particular knowledge of the Muslim community.

    The knowledge gained about a group I know little about has been interesting. It is important to note that the story is based on some actual fact - a 2006 terrorist plot foiled by CSIS and the RCMP. A murder mystery typically causes me to cut off all communication until the book is finished - no exception here.

    I love reading about places I know well and Toronto and its environs was once my home - even a new piece of Toronto history - how Jarvis Street got its name!

    Now to go back to read The Unquiet Dead, Ausma Zehanat Khan's first Khattak story....and wait impatiently for the third.
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