The Language of Secrets, Ausma Zehanat Khan
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published: February 2nd 2016 by Minotaur Books
Source: Goodreads giveaway
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.
I was blown away last year by Ausma Zehanat Khan’s debut, The Unquiet Dead. I can’t think of another mystery that had me so caught up in the plot and also left me in tears. So I was very excited to start her next book about Detectives Khattak and Getty. A Muslim police officer investigating in a mosque for a murder suspect – while there is also a terrorism investigation happening. Sounds almost as intense as Khan’s last book about a Balkan war criminal sneaking into Canada and ending up murdered. Khattak is so different than a basic murder cop you might read about – he has so many layers and his story as I know it so far is fascinating. There is so much beauty to Islam and I really liked getting Khattak’s interpretation of his faith – especially interesting juxtaposed with a suspected violent extremist.
Again I was caught up until the very end of this book as to who the actual murderer was and it was no one I suspected! I was so sure I knew what had happened but Khan definitely led me down the wrong path. I like how Khattak and Getty work together, and I will definitely hope for a 3rd book with more about Rachel again. Here we had much more of Esa and his family which was great, but I would have liked both of them.
I might have been better served by rereading the Unquiet Dead before starting The Language of Secrets. There are references to the previous case and the fallout it caused – so while this works as a stand alone I would recommend starting with book one. While Rachel Getty is definitely a lighter foil to her partner she’s not really so light herself. These are pretty heavy books overall. The dramatic past between Esa and his fellow police is plot relevant, but also felt like it bogged the flow down at times. That is what kept this from being a 5 star read for me.
This cover fits so well and is totally creeping me out when I look at it now that I’ve finished. This is a perfect match for this mystery – it was creepy and dark!
Thank you Minotaur Books and Goodreads for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!