Wednesday, March 9, 2016

THE UNQUIET DEAD by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Genocide forms the backstory of Ausma Zehanat Khan's powerful and disturbing The Unquiet Dead.

Detective Rachel Getty's boss Esa Khattak asks her to investigate a seemingly-accidental death. Khattak is the commander of Canada's Community Policing Section (CPS). He knows something about the death he doesn't share.

A part of his secrecy seems to have to do with his Muslim faith.

Getty's stubbornly pursued investigation leads her back to the 1992 Siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Along the way, Getty tries to find her brother who is alienated from the family. Khattak falls in love with a suspect and almost destroys the case. Khattak reestablishes his relationship with his best friend. (They broke apart because of an argument about a woman.) And Getty connects to a brilliant man.

All this comes together in a heartbreaking story.

I've been intentionally sketchy. The story deserves your own reading, not my retelling.

The story of the murder of virtually all of Bosnia's male Muslims (along with the rape and murder of the women and children) shines a light on the present. We attack people of different races, religions, or sexual orientations at our own risk. Such grave sins have grave consequences.

Rachel Getty's investigation is at the center of the story. Her stubborn fight to find the answer leads to whatever resolution occurs.

If you read this story, I suggest you read the Author's Note at the end of the book first. It explains the history in a way that makes the book more understandable.

The Unquiet Dead is one of those books I feel unqualified to write about. It is such a good book about such terrible things. Only a great story could take this history in. The Unquiet Dead is a great story.


Cathy said...

I'm about halfway through this book right now, Joe. It's amazing.

Joe Barone said...

Yes, Cathy. I tried to think of some way to express how good I thought the book was, and I was sort of at a loss for words.