NetGalley#06: “East of Hounslow” by Khurrum Rahman

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This was a review copy kindly provided by the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Where to start? At the beginning is best they say, so here goes.

Back in June of this year I attended an event at Bradford Literary Festival and was intrigued by the passionate way in which this book was discussed by a commissioning editor for the publishers. “East Of Hounslow” wasn’t the topic of the discussion, it simply came up as an example of a new and exciting writer about to reveal his debut book. The editor, Lisa Milton, described it, and its author, Khurrum Rahman, with such verve and enthusiasm that I determined to make sure I bought a copy on its release.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and, w’d’ya know, NetGalley have it available for review. Naturally, I put my request in for a copy – hey, a free read and one that I was looking forward to anyway, what’s not to like? The fates were kind to me and here I am reviewing “East Of Hounslow”.

I tore through this book in just a few days of reading spread over a week – life, work and other boring stuff slowed me down a tad – and I can honestly say it is a fabulous read. It sure lived up to my expectations.

I will try to avoid any spoilers. The plot centres around Javid Qasim, a young British Muslim. Javid enjoys life and funds his enjoyment through dealing drugs. He doesn’t consider himself to be doing much wrong but he does enough wrong to fall foul of his supplier and be facing a very short deadline to come up with a large amount of cash or suffer the consequences. In the meantime, he manages to find himself involved in a revenge attack on local yobs for an attack on his mosque. Javid has really had a lousy few days.

His salvation from criminal proceedings for his part in the violence and from repercussions from his supplier comes in the form of MI5. Javid has little recourse but to be recruited as their eyes and ears in the mosque. And so the plot develops.

I didn’t want to like Javid – drug dealing and nefarious activities are plainly wrong – but Rahman has penned such a vibrant and multi faceted character that it is hard to dislike him. Rahman’s writing is pacy and punchy and this is a rip roaring thriller. It fair rattles along and is a huge joy to read. The author adds a dash of darkly comic touches to his tale that lighten what is a disturbing and all to plausible and terrifying scenario. This is a book which is very pertinent to the times we live in and, thankfully, the events within its pages are simply fiction.

I believe this is to be the first in a trilogy. I hope so as I am keen to see how the author takes Javid on this journey.

I think Ms Milton was correct back in June, Khurrum Rahman is certainly a new author to watch out for in the future.

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