Excerpt from The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Unquiet Dead

A Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak Novel

by Ausma Zehanat Khan

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan X
The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2015, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2015, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
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It didn't matter to Khattak that this was how he had been lured into the job by his former superintendent, Robert Palmer. He loved police work. It suited an analytical nature tempered by a long-simmering hunger for justice. And if he was being used, as indisputably he was, he was also prepared to enact his own vision for CPS. What flame-fanning bigots across the border would doubtlessly call community pandering, a fig-leaf jihad. Take anything a Muslim touched, add the word jihad to it, and immediately you produced something ugly and divisive. But Tom wasn't one of these. Chief historian at the Department of Justice, he was a gifted academic whose fatherly demeanor masked a passion for the truth as sharp and relentless as Khattak's own.

He had called to ask Khattak to investigate the death of a Scarborough man named Christopher Drayton. There was no reason that CPS should have an interest in the man's death. He had fallen from a section of the Scarborough Bluffs known as the Cathedral. His death had been swift and certain with no evidence of outside interference. Khattak had pointed this out to his friend in measured tones, and Tom had let him. When he'd finished, Tom gave him the real reason for his call and the reason it encroached upon Khattak's jurisdiction. Khattak heard the worry and fear beneath Tom Paley's words.

And into the remnants of Khattak's prayer intruded a series of recollections from his youth. Of news reports, hurriedly organized meetings and volunteer drives, followed too slowly by action. He saw himself as a young man joining others in a circle around the flame at Parliament Hill. He absorbed the thick, despairing heat of that summer into his skin. His dark hair flattened against his head; he felt in that moment his own impotence. He listened to Tom's labored explanation, not liking the hitch in his friend's breath. When Tom came to the nature of his request, Khattak agreed. But his words were slow, weighted by the years that had passed since that summer. Still, he would do as asked.

"Don't go alone," Tom said. "You'll need to look objective."

Khattak took no offense at the phrasing. He knew the unspoken truth as well as Tom did.

Because you can't be.

"I'll take Rachel." He had told Tom about his partner, Rachel Getty, before.

"You know her well enough to trust her?"

"She's the best officer I've ever worked with."

"She's young."

"Not so young that she doesn't understand our work. And I find her perspective helps me."

He meant it. But even as he said it he knew that he would work with Rachel as he had done in the past. Withholding a part of the truth, of himself, until he could see the world through the clear, discerning eyes that watched him with such trust.

He knew he could turn to his childhood friend, Nathan Clare, for background on Drayton. Nate lived on the Bluff s and would understand why he'd agreed to Tom's request. Nate would understand as well the toll compliance would take. But Khattak's bond with Nate had long since been severed. It was a mistake to think Nate still knew him at all.

He'd meant the last words of his prayer to be a blessing asked for his family, in a space he tried to keep for himself, exchanging solitude for solace. Lately, he'd come to accept that there was no separate peace. His work, and the harshness of the choices he had made, bled into everything.

He rose from his prayer rug to find that dusk had given way to dark. He thought of the tiny documents library in Ottawa with its overflowing shelves. He'd spent most of that long-ago summer there, collecting evidence.

And he remembered other words, other blessings to be sought with a premonition of ruin.

They are going to burn us all.

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Excerpted from The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan. Copyright © 2015 by Ausma Zehanat Khan. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Minotaur. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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