Blackwater Falls

Ausma Zehanat Khan

Book - 2022

"From critically acclaimed author Ausma Zehanat Khan, Blackwater Falls is the first in a timely and powerful crime series, introducing Detective Inaya Rahman. Girls from immigrant communities have been disappearing for months in the Colorado town of Blackwater Falls, but the local sheriff is slow to act and the fates of the missing girls largely ignored. At last, the calls for justice become too loud to ignore when the body of a star student and refugee--the Syrian teenager Razan Elkader--is positioned deliberately in a mosque. Detective Inaya Rahman and Lieutenant Waqas Seif of the Denver Police are recruited to solve Razan's murder, and quickly uncover a link to other missing and murdered girls. But as Inaya gets closer to the t...ruth, Seif finds ways to obstruct the investigation. Inaya may be drawn to him, but she is wary of his motives: he may be covering up the crimes of their boss, whose connections in Blackwater run deep. Inaya turns to her female colleagues, attorney Areesha Adams and Detective Catalina Hernandez, for help in finding the truth. The three have bonded through their experiences as members of vulnerable groups and now they must work together to expose the conspiracy behind the murders before another girl disappears. Delving deep into racial tensions, and police corruption and violence, Blackwater Falls examines a series of crimes within the context of contemporary American politics with compassion and searing insight"--

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Detective and mystery fiction
New York : Minotaur Books 2022.
Main Author
Ausma Zehanat Khan (author)
First edition
Physical Description
375 pages ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Detective Inaya Rahman is a Muslim woman and a police officer, which she knows puts her in a precarious position in Blackwater Falls, Colorado. As part of the Community Response Unit, Inaya and her colleagues are tasked with looking after the needs of the community by holding the existing police force accountable. When an immigrant Syrian teen, Razan Elkader, is found murdered in the town's mosque, Inaya is put in charge of the investigation. Soon the suspects are climbing in number, including local law enforcement, a Christian biker gang, and the pastor of the Resurrection Church. Connecting the earlier disappearance of two Somali girls to Razan's murder, Inaya finds herself thrown into the middle of a raging, racially-inspired war. Khan's novel, the first in a series, offers a fine portrait of female power under adversity. Inaya projects strength through vulnerability, which endears her immediately to readers. Enthralling and intense, the plot unfurls a perceptive exploration of faith, race, gender roles, immigration, intolerance, and community. This is a masterfully crafted thriller that doesn't disappoint from beginning to end. Readers who enjoy strong female leads and compulsive police dramas will want to read this one and will look forward to more from Khan.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

At the start of this stunning series launch from Khan (the Esa Khattak series), the corpse of high school student and Syrian refugee Razan Elkader is found nailed to the door of a mosque in Blackwater Falls, Colo. Lt. Waqas Seif of the Community Response Unit, a small team assigned to cases involving vulnerable and minority groups, selects detective Inaya Rahman for the investigation, her first hands-on case since moving to Blackwater six months earlier. Rahman discovers that two Somali girls who were friends of Razan's disappeared months before, but were dismissed as runaways by Blackwater's powerful sheriff, who's known to mistreat minorities. Though the girls' bodies haven't been found, Rahman fears they too may be dead. Activist-attorney Areesha Adams and criminal psychologist Catalina Hernandez offer Rahman both support and assistance as the investigation leads to the aerospace company at which Razan had interned, the meatpacking plant that employs the three girls' fathers, and an anti-Muslim evangelical church. When Seif unexpectedly starts to oppose Rahman's efforts, she wonders whether he has an agenda other than solving the crime. Khan brilliantly depicts the complexities of her characters and the tensions of a multicultural American community struggling with bias, fear, and corruption. At once suspenseful, moving, and thought-provoking, this is not to be missed. Agent: Danielle Burby, Nelson Literary. (Nov.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

The horrifying death and crucifixion of a Muslim teen in Blackwater Falls, CO, calls for investigation by the Community Outreach Unit of the Denver Police Department. Lieutenant Waqas Seif and Detective Inaya Rahman are dispatched to the outlying town, where they encounter hate and bigotry from a variety of groups. They also learn of the disappearance of two Black teens from the immigrant community. Was this retribution for union organizing? Are the disappearances and the murder linked? Harassment by a Christian biker gang tied to an evangelical megachurch complicates the investigation. Solemnly narrated by Fareeda Pasha, Khan's (A Deadly Divide) gripping series opener addresses racial tension, religious extremism, police corruption and violence, and corporate greed. Pasha gives voice to Khan's intriguing characters, eloquently embodying Rahman, who struggles to balance her role as a Muslim woman with her duties as a police investigator. VERDICT Pasha's thoughtful and fluent narration adds depth to Khan's complex and troubling mystery. Recommended for mystery fans looking for a strong police drama that delves into contemporary social issues.--Joanna M. Burkhardt

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Xenophobia and greed foment violence and corruption in a small mountain town. Racial tension runs high in Blackwater Falls, Colorado, thanks to the evangelical, anti-immigrant Resurrection Church and its "outreach branch" of motorcycle-riding vigilantes dubbed the Disciples. Members of minority groups have filed multiple complaints against Resurrection crony Sheriff Addison Grant and his like-minded deputies, so when the corpse of 16-year-old Syrian refugee Razan Elkader is found stripped of her hijab and nailed to the door of her local mosque in a "gruesome emulation of the Crucifixion," the Denver Police Department's Community Response Unit takes over the investigation. Led by Lt. Waqas Seif, the CRU's mandate is to provide accountability and transparency to overpoliced communities. Seif taps Det. Inaya Rahman to run point; though she, her parents, and her younger sisters only moved to the area six months ago, the Rahmans worship at the Blackwater mosque, and Inaya has prior experience working homicide. With help from Det. Catalina Hernandez and civil rights attorney Areesha Adams, Inaya probes Razan's murder while searching for two missing Somali girls whom Grant previously dismissed as runaways. Seif pushes back on efforts to implicate Grant, prompting Inaya to question his allegiance. Khan's third-person narrative unfolds largely from Inaya's perspective, detailing her struggles to reconcile her faith with the realities of her law enforcement career. Occasional chapters from Seif's POV add context and heighten tension. The mystery's denouement is convoluted, and the supporting cast is studded with stereotypes, blunting the tale's impact, but Inaya is a complex, compassionate protagonist perfectly poised to helm a new series challenging the outmoded conventions of police procedurals. A timely, nuanced take on a staid formula. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.