Southall, West London. Recently released from prison, Zaq Khan is lucky to land a dead-end job at a builders’ yard. All he wants to do is keep his head down and put his past behind him.
But when he has to search for his boss’s runaway daughter it quickly becomes apparent he’s not simply dealing with family arguments and arranged marriages as he finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception, murder and revenge.
With time running out and pressure mounting, can he find the missing girl before it’s too late? And if he does, can he keep her – and himself – alive long enough to deal with the people who want them both dead?
This wouldn’t have been a book that I would have normally chosen to pick up and read, so I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up completely enjoying myself whilst reading it! ‘Western Fringes’ is a gritty, urban crime thriller. It’s modern and very timely, it looks at many of the issues that we see everyday on the news and that was part of reason I enjoyed it so much. Amer Anwar explores the cultural differences and racism between Sikhs and Muslims and has created a gripping novel around it.
This book offers us a look at the traditions (some what dated traditions) of Sikh families, particularly arranged marriages. Which shockingly still occur today. Our hero Zaq, is hired to find Rita, a girl who has runaway from her overbearing father and brothers who think they know what’s best for her. These guys were just the worst – I love to hate a character when reading and they certainly got some hate and anger from me!
The characterisation was superb and really well written. I championed Zaq the whole way through as he undertook is task. Against his will he is forced into becoming an amateur detective and he does it rather well. His supporting cast of characters were equally likeable and colourful, I loved the relationship between Zaq and his best friend Jags, they had me in stitches!
This is not a book for the faint hearted, there are some quite graphic violent scenes including a particularly brutal torture scene, which I loved because I’m a bit twisted like that, but some readers really won’t like it. So you have been warned!
I found this book utterly gripping and entertaining. The plot kept me guessing and the characters felt like real people. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Amer Anwar, this debut was impressive and a great read.
BOOKISH CORNER RATING – 4/5 STARS
Amer Anwar grew up in West London. After leaving college he had a variety of jobs, including; warehouse assistant, comic book lettering artist, a driver for emergency doctors and chalet rep in the French Alps. He eventually landed a job as a creative artworker/graphic designer and spent a decade and a half producing artwork, mainly for the home entertainment industry. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London and is a winner of the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award. ‘Western Fringes’ is his first novel.
‘Western Fringes’ in out now in paperback, published by Edurus Books. With thanks to the author for my review copy.