Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Blackwater Falls by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Series: Blackwater Falls #1
Published by Minotaur Books on November 1, 2022
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Girls from immigrant communities have been disappearing for months in the Colorado town of Blackwater Falls, but the local sheriff is slow to act and the fates of the missing girls largely ignored. At last, the calls for justice become too loud to ignore when the body of a star student and refugee--the Syrian teenager Razan Elkader--is positioned deliberately in a mosque.
Detective Inaya Rahman and Lieutenant Waqas Seif of the Denver Police are recruited to solve Razan’s murder, and quickly uncover a link to other missing and murdered girls. But as Inaya gets closer to the truth, Seif finds ways to obstruct the investigation. Inaya may be drawn to him, but she is wary of his motives: he may be covering up the crimes of their boss, whose connections in Blackwater run deep.
Inaya turns to her female colleagues, attorney Areesha Adams and Detective Catalina Hernandez, for help in finding the truth. The three have bonded through their experiences as members of vulnerable groups and now they must work together to expose the conspiracy behind the murders before another girl disappears.
Delving deep into racial tensions, and police corruption and violence, Blackwater Falls examines a series of crimes within the context of contemporary American politics with compassion and searing insight.
I enjoy reading police procedurals with different settings and diverse characters. Blackwater Falls is exactly this sort of book. I read to learn new things and broaden my experience which also happened in this reading. There were a variety of cultural and religious aspects which I have had almost no knowledge. My lack of experience made my reading slow as I was trying to assimilate new ideas.
The setting is a smaller town in Colorado. There are Muslim people from the Middle East, Hispanic Catholics from Mexico, and black refugees from Somalia. There may have been more religions and refugees from other areas. The CEO of a tech firm was from Ukraine and there were some Asian characters. The main character Inaya is a police officer with her Muslim family came from Afghanistan.
In addition to the world-building, there are also a variety of main characters, organizations and cultural communities to know. The personal relationships of Inaya and her team members in the Cultural Response Unit, and their families are explored. As they work the case, they build some connections with some community members.
Throughout there were instances of racial, cultural and religion bias or hate, along with misogyny. Some instances were disturbing. Young women have disappeared, and now one has been murdered. Inaya works with her partner, and tries to help the various families in the community while solving the murder.
There are political and religious harassments, as well as police corruption making it all more difficult. Inaya works hard and with compassion for the victims and families. The case of the missing girls is solved, but it is only the tip of the iceberg on the issues and struggles in this community. Blackwater Falls is the first in a series where there is definitely more to come.
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