Summary and book reviews of The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

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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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2015, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2015, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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About this Book

Book Summary

A complex and provocative story of loss, redemption, and the cost of justice that will linger with readers long after turning the final page.

Despite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she's still uneasy at Khattak's tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton's death. Drayton's apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn't seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak's team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case. It soon comes to light that Drayton may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

If that's true, any number of people might have had reason to help Drayton to his death, and a murder investigation could have far-reaching ripples throughout the community. But as Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, with no easy answers. Had the specters of Srebrenica returned to haunt Drayton at the end, or had he been keeping secrets of an entirely different nature? Or, after all, did a man just fall to his death from the Bluffs?

In her spellbinding debut, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a complex and provocative story of loss, redemption, and the cost of justice that will linger with readers long after turning the final page.

1.


I will never worship what you worship.
Nor will you worship what I worship.
To you, your religion - to me, mine.

Esa Khattak turned his head to the right, offering the universal salaam at the conclusion of the evening prayer. He was seated with hislegs folded beneath him on a prayer rug woven by his ancestors from Peshawar. The worn red and gold strands were comforting; his fingers sought them out when he pressed his forehead to the floor. A moment later, his eyes traced them as his cupped palms offered the final supplication. The Maghrib prayer was for Khattak a time of consolation where along with prayers for Muhammad, he asked for mercy upon his wife and forgiveness for the accident that had caused her death. A nightly ritual of grief relieved by the possibility of hope, it stretched across that most resonant band of time: twilight. The dying sun muted his thoughts, much as it subdued the colors of the janamaz beneath him. It was the discipline of the ritual that brought him ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The original title of this book was 'An Unsafe Area.' Now that you have finished The Unquiet Dead, consider why 'An Unsafe Area' might have been an appropriate title. What themes, events or settings in the book does it speak to? Do you prefer this title to The Unquiet Dead? Why or why not?
  2. By the end of the mystery, we learn that Inspector Khattak is certain that Christopher Drayton was pushed to his death by Imam Muharrem. However, no independent corroboration of Khattak's conclusion is offered, as Muharrem never makes a direct confession. If Inspector Khattak is correct, should he have arrested Imam Muharrem ? Has justice been served? What does the ending of the book tell us about our notions of what real justice...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Where The Unquiet Dead really soars is Khan's sensitive and intelligent portrayal of the violent history of the former Yugoslavia, which raises questions of responsibility, retribution and justice. This is a novel that manages to be informative without being didactic or slow-paced, and to be complex without being confusing.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

Full Review (508 words).

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Media Reviews

The Globe and Mail
This is Canadian-born Khan’s first novel and what a debut it is!...Khan knows her subject, knows her hometown, and knows how to keep the suspense building. This is a writer to watch.

Los Angeles Times
The Unquiet Dead blazes what one hopes will be a new path guided by the author's keen understanding of the intersection of faith and core Muslim values, complex human nature and evil done by seemingly ordinary people. It is these qualities that make this a debut to remember and one that even those who eschew the genre will devour in one breathtaking sitting.

Associated Press
Gripping…An intelligent plot and graceful writing make The Unquiet Dead an outstanding debut that is not easily forgotten.

Kirkus Reviews
Khan's stunning debut is a poignant, elegantly written mystery laced with complex characters.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Beautiful and powerful.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Flashbacks to the Bosnian War and glimpses into the personal tragedies of Khattak and Getty make this debut by a former law professor with a specialty in Balkan war crimes even more compelling and hauntingly powerful.

Author Blurb Reza Aslan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot
A spectacular debut. Khan has written a heartbreaking book that stays with you long after you've put it down.

Author Blurb Jilliane Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Things
What a debut! Ausma Khan's The Unquiet Dead is a stirring mystery with unexpected, complex characters and a story that will keep you flipping pages until the wee hours.

Author Blurb Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of The Other Woman
Evocative, surprising, and important. With its mesmerizingly personal voice, each lyrical sentence reveals another suspenseful layer of this complex and heartbreaking mystery. Harrowing and disturbing, its delicate strength creates tension on every page.

Author Blurb Steve Hockensmith, Edgar-nominated author of Holmes on the Range
It would be enough that Ausma Zehanat Khan's The Unquiet Dead gives us an intriguing new detective team in Esa Khattak and Sgt. Rachel Getty. But it does far more than that. Khan creates an engrossing story that allows her to sift through the emotional rubble of real-world tragedy. In the end, it isn't just gripping. It's devastating.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Radovan Karadzic and the Bosnian Conflict

1993 map of the former Yugoslavia. On June 25 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia, which, since World War II, had operated as a federal republic comprised of the territories – Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

The departure of Croatia, a republic with a large Serbian population, was of particular concern to Slobodan Milosovic, Serbia's party leader and president, who also served as president of the Federal Republic of of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000. Armed conflict followed, initially focused in Slovenia and Croatia. But as the desire for independence spread to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a republic with a diverse ethnic population including a large Muslim population and a Serbian (and pro-...

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