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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Language of Secrets

ISBN: 9781250055125

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 2/2/2016

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars

Detective Esa Khattak heads up Canada's Community Policing Section, which handles minority-sensitive cases across all levels of law enforcement. Khattak is still under scrutiny for his last case, so he's surprised when INSET, Canada's federal intelligence agency, calls him in on another potentially hot button issue. For months, INSET has been investigating a local terrorist cell which is planning an attack on New Year's Day. INSET had an informant, Mohsin Dar, undercover inside the cell. But now, just weeks before the attack, Mohsin has been murdered at the group's training camp deep in the woods.

INSET wants Khattak to give the appearance of investigating Mohsin's death, and then to bury the lead. They can't risk exposing their operation, or Mohsin's role in it. But Khattak used to know Mohsin, and he knows he can't just let this murder slide. So Khattak sends his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, undercover into the small-town mosque which houses the terrorist cell. As Rachel tentatively reaches out into the unfamiliar world of Islam, and begins developing relationships with the people of the mosque and the terrorist cell within it, the potential reasons for Mohsin's murder only seem to multiply, from the political and ideological to the intensely personal.

The Unquiet Dead author Ausma Zehanat Khan once again dazzles with a brilliant mystery carefully woven into a profound and intimate story of humanity.

My Review

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Talented author, Ausma Zehanat Khan returns following her debut, The Unquiet Dead, (an emotional, and haunting mystery of horrific crimes committed against Muslims in Bosnia-based on Srebrenica massacre of 1995). She heats up the intensity with a new murder-mystery thriller, featuring Canadian dynamic duo (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak #2) caught up into a complex world, where loyalties are tested. THE LANGUAGE OF SECRETS —another enthralling well researched political mystery thriller--of controversy, terrorism, religion, social issues, violence, culture, suspicion, and humanity; infused with history, poetry, and the classics. (Inspired by true, Canadian Toronto 18). Toronto-based Muslim detective,Esa Khattak heads up Canada's Community Policing Section, which handles minority-sensitive cases across all levels of law enforcement. Khattak is tested, torn divided by his devotion to his Muslim faith and community and his role as a police detective. He is constantly being scrutinized, suspected of being a traitor by both his Muslim community and by the police force. He was assigned to investigate the murder of Moshin, by INSET, Canada's federal intelligence agency. After investigating a local terrorist cell, planning an attack on New Year's Day, their informant, Moshin now has been murdered. They cannot risk exposing the operation; however, Khattak is divided, since this was his friend. His partner, hockey-loving Detective Rachel Getty, goes undercover in the mosque, claiming she is considering converting. An unfamiliar world of Islam--developing relationships and things get complicated—both professionally and personally. Well-researched (based on a real-life scheme by the so-called "Toronto 18," an extremist group that intended to attack Canadian Parliament in 2006)—and to behead parliamentarians as part of a plan to force the recall of Canadian troops from Afghanistan. In the summer of 2007 Canadian law enforcement carried out a major anti-terrorism operation that resulted in the arrest of eighteen suspects on terrorism charges. This group would later become known as the Toronto 18. Even though the participants in the plot were ill-equipped and poorly trained, they nevertheless attempted to make their plot a reality. As the author mentions in her notes:

“As I researched the Toronto 18 case, I became aware of how closely the jihadist ideology of the Toronto 18 was tied to other issues: the conflation of Islam with violence, the perception that the actions of an extremist fringe inescapably taint and implicate an entire faith community, and the necessity of moving beyond reductive notions of (us and them) to achieve a deeper understanding of the present moment in history—one that might suggest a way forward.” Thought-provoking! Khan creates an eye-opening look into the world of Muslim faith, often misunderstood. An education for those ill-informed and uneducated into this world—the author’s passion is reflected throughout the pages with history, research, and her characters. A top notch, action-packed cop procedural, and a powerful insightful look into the Muslim community. Khan, equipped with a Ph.D. in international human-rights law, specializing in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans, drew on her expertise and background for her debut novel, The Unquiet Dead a mystery-thriller connected to the 1995 Srebrenica genocide—highly recommend reading prior to THE LANGUAGE OF SECRETS. Beyond wanting to celebrate and share Eastern art, Khan had another personal reason for incorporating poetry into a whodunit murder. She says,

“If you look at Arab or Persian traditions, you’ll see poetry is very much at their heart. I thought a very beautiful way to temper the ugliness of the jihadist ideology is also to express the beauty of those traditions.”

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About the Author

Ausma Zehanat Khan is the author of the debut novel The Unquiet Dead published by St. Martin’s Press to widespread critical acclaim, including a Publishers Weekly starred review, and reviews in the LA Times and The New York Times. The Unquiet Dead was also a January 2015 Indie Next pick. Her second novel, The Language of Secrets, will be published in February 2016.

A frequent lecturer and commentator, Ms. Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with a research specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. Ms. Khan completed her LL.B. and LL.M. at the University of Ottawa, and her B.A. in English Literature & Sociology at the University of Toronto.

Formerly, she served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine. The first magazine to address a target audience of young Muslim women, Muslim Girl re-shaped the conversation about Muslim women in North America. It was featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, Voice of America, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and Maclean’s magazine, among others.

Internationally, Ms. Khan has spoken about Muslim Girl to Asharq al Awsat, the Organization of Islamic Conference Journal, the Gulf Today, Arabian Woman, Al Ahram Shabab, the India Times, Der Spiegel, Kristeligt Dagblad, the International Herald Tribune and many others. Her television appearances include CNN, NBC Today, Al Jazeera “Everywoman,” Al Arabiyya TV, CBC TV, Global TV, and the Current TV documentary on Muslim Girl.

Ms. Khan practiced immigration law in Toronto and has taught international human rights law at Northwestern University, as well as human rights and business law at York University. She is a long-time community activist and writer, and currently lives in Colorado with her husband. Connect: Website Twitter Goodreads Facebook

Photo Credit: Alan Klehr

The Unquiet Dead

ISBN: 9781250055118 Publisher: St. Martin's Press Publication Date: 1/13/2015 Format: Other My Rating: 5 Stars ​ Series: Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak #1







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