Review published on December 14, 2017.
Sometimes books can get a bit samey, the same sort of plot lines, the same sort of protagonists, the same sort of consequences, so it’s nice to read one that does things differently, which is very much the case in Khurrum Rahman’s debut East of Hounslow.
The novel centres on Javid Qasim – Jay to his friends and associates – a British-born Muslim who is more likely to be found out on the streets dealing than in the Mosque. Jay’s been living on easy street for a while, but when his mum leaves to live in Qatar and Jay gets caught up in an incident in Elmsleigh, it seems his luck’s about to change. But when he gets pulled in by authorities, the last things Jay expects to hear is that he’s been chosen by MI5 to work undercover. James Bond, eat your heart out. Well, not quite. Jay is tasked with uncovering any potential terrorist factions at his local mosque, and little does he realise just quite how deep he’s going to get.
This book took me into completely new territory, which was both refreshing and eye-opening. It’s great to get a different perspective and to be introduced to different characters and different worlds. But there’s also a sense in which the book is very relevant right now, and I admire the way the author tackled a very sensitive and divisive subject, and didn’t simply paint the world as black and white. Although the author’s focus is very much on Jay as a tolerant and moderate Muslim, he does begin to touch on the mindset and ideology of those who may turn to terrorism and the roots of these issues, which again offers plenty of food for thought for readers and room for discussion amongst reading groups. I enjoyed seeing the world through Jay’s eyes, and having my own perspective challenged. At times, it felt like I was having to suspend disbelief with the plot, but anyone who’s read or watched James Bond or Bourne will be all too familiar with doing so and it hardly deflects from the enjoyment of what is a modern, urban thriller. And the ending, oh my! Even though the author lays clues, he does an amazing job of covering his tracks and getting the reader so caught up in the action that he ensures that the finale takes the reader completely by surprise. Bravo!
This was definitely a really interesting and intriguing novel to read and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to those looking for something different to the usual fare. I will also be looking out keenly for this author in the future.
Jade Craddock 4/5
East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman
HQ 9780008229573 pbk Nov 2017
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