Cover Image: Edgware Road

Edgware Road

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Long-ago scandals…								2 stars

In 1987, Alia Quraishi was a young girl when her dad went missing. A few weeks later his body was found, and Alia was told he had drowned. Now in 2003, Alia wants to know more. What was Khalid doing in Portsmouth, far from his usual London haunts, and why did he drown? Why didn’t he turn up the last time he was due to meet her in Edgware Road tube station? As a mixed-race child brought up entirely by her white mother after Khalid’s death, Alia also finds herself wanting to know more about her Pakistani heritage. Alia’s quest to learn more about the father she barely remembers will take her both to Pakistan and back into the past, to some of the murky dealings in the world of high finance in which Khalid seems to have become involved.

This starts out excellently. It is split between Alia’s story in 2003 and Khalid’s back in the 1980s, and Khan draws both characters beautifully. She shows Alia’s position, as a mixed-race person brought up with little contact with half of her heritage, very realistically and happily undramatically. Alia has had a good education and while her academic career isn’t on as solid a footing as she would like, she’s doing fine. By taking this essentially British woman to Pakistan, Khan shows the differences in the two cultures and in the status of women within both societies – middle-class women, in both cases – and she doesn’t set out to criticise either culture or to show one as better than the other. Instead she shows that the women are inclined to favour the culture of their upbringing, not surprisingly. Alia would find it hard to give up her British liberal attitudes, but she can see that the seemingly more restricted lifestyle of her Pakistani cousins has advantages too.

Khalid’s story is also done very well in the early part of the book. He is a croupier in Hefner’s Playboy casino in London just at the time when women were beginning to object to the idea of waitresses being made to dress as semi-naked bunnies for the titillation of male customers. Rumours are also swirling that the Playboy Club and its manager, Victor Lowndes, are in trouble over dodgy financial dealings, and the club is about to have its gaming licence revoked. Khalid is himself a gambler and this has led to the breakdown of his marriage to Alia’s mum. Now he gets involved with Adnan Khashoggi and through him gets sucked into the dodgy dealings of the BCCI just before the scandal that brought the bank down.

If Hefner, Lowndes, Khashoggi and BCCI are meaningless terms to you, then you may well be lost, not to mention bored, by this book. I lived through these various scandals but to be honest didn’t even find them all that interesting at the time. And it’s here that the book lost me. From being an interesting study of character and culture, it gets bogged down in ‘80s references, and Khan’s plot, regarding the death of Khalid, isn’t strong enough to fight its way through. The real problem, I felt, is that people who remember these scandals would, like me, feel that Khan added nothing to what came out in the interminable investigations that followed them; while for newcomers, I feel Khan doesn’t explain clearly enough, or interestingly enough, what they were all about or the impact that they had. She tells us that the bank’s failure would have affected investors, but doesn’t show us. Equally she tells us that feminists were making a stand about Playboy and the sexualisation of women in the workplace, but doesn’t show us. And I’m afraid the simple facts that rich men often get rich by illegal means, and that casinos and banks are great places for all kinds of dodgy stuff to go on, isn’t enough to surprise or thrill. The book needs a stronger plot with an added thriller element or, conversely, a simpler one, that concentrates on Alia’s journey of self-discovery rather than losing its way in some rather tedious ancient scandals. 

I’m afraid I gave in around the 60% mark and started brutally skimming. I was interested enough to know what had happened to Khalid to stick with it, but it all seemed like a real anti-climax in the end. I enjoyed Khan’s writing style and characterisation a lot and would read something else by her, but I hope next time she’ll get a better balance between research, background and story-telling. This is a debut novel and shows real promise but, as I say so often, especially when it comes to debut authors, why wasn’t the editor giving her better guidance? 

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Head of Zeus via NetGalley.
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Edgeware Road is a triumph of a book, addressing lost relationships between fathers and daughters, addressing the pressures for immigrants of setting up life in a new country & making the right choices for your family, and of discovering what it is that you never knew about your past. Deftly moving between 1980s London, which was completely bought to life by the author, and the beginning of the 21st century, when the daughter who was abandoned by her father takes steps to find out what happened to him in the intervening years. It is written with love and affection for its characters and its setting and was an absolute pleasure to read.
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A fresh voice on the literary fiction scene, Yasmin Cordery Khan writes with easy assurance about a moment in time that has largely been forgotten by all but those affected by it. She skilfully evokes the sights, sounds and smells of London in the 80s and I felt myself back there. I remember the BCCI scandal, but I was young and less interested in the details. However, the repercussions of the collapse of the bank rippled into my own life as a family friend had worked for the bank. His involvement with them was swiftly glossed over and it left the taint that something unsavoury had happened. Khan deftly shows the depth of corruption with a more human perspective as Alia Quaraishi tries to find out what happened to her father, Khalid. When she was 11 y/o, in 1987, he failed to show up for their regular meeting at Edgware Road. His body washed up from the Solent shortly afterwards and Alia moved on with her life. Now, a university professor, she wants to find out what happened to him and investigates. This may be literary fiction, but it has a propulsive, urgent narrative and Khan’s voice is so good that she pulls you along on her journey with ease. A really interesting and well written novel that feels too accomplished for a debut. Thoroughly recommend.
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I really enjoyed this book although at times, I felt it was a bit too long. The writing was wonderful though and I enjoyed all the characters.
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I’d describe this book as realistic fiction. The author has done an amazing job at creating imaginary characters and situations that depict the world and society. The characters focus on themes of growing up and confronting personal and social problems. This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.

3.5/5.
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Slow burning but gripping; set between 1987 and 2003; you wittily alternate between Khalid’s point of view then, his daughter Alia’s there and then, and MP Mark Denby’s.

From the very first page, you get sucked in this serious and complex story, which becomes a journey through different cultures, mixing up intricacies of family dynamics, friendships, politics, struggles of immigration, traditions and communities. 

Travel with Alia to Pakistan. Explore the culture and embark on this sensory journey with her. Share her internal struggles towards her family. Accompany her in her quest for answers. 

Discover Khalid’s life in the 80s. Share his dreams and ambitions for the future, his burning desire of richness and grandeur, of making a mark. Follow his struggles as an immigrant, the toughness of finding a job, his battles as a gambling addict, along with the devastating consequences that this can have. 

Delve into the political dynamics, the dilemmas of right and wrong of Mark Denby. Share his family life, his discoveries about the dodgy BCCI bank, his secrets and his demons. 

A very cleverly drafted, very rich story, where the reader gets to peel off layer after layer, page after page, delving into deep and thoroughly crafted characters, a truly pleasant read which I strongly recommend !
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Really enjoyed getting to know Alia and her relationship with her mum, her dad, her housemate, and everyone in between. Would’ve loved to have learnt more about Alia’s quest to find out more about her dad and her travels to
uncover hidden truths. Sometimes it felt as though there was a lot to keep up with in terms of different timeframes and different character perspectives, but overall a great read!
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What an immense, intricate stunner of a debut. At times the swift swapping from one character perspective to another did throw me, so I’m not sure if a marker in the text could be helpful (as I know other reviewers have pointed this out too), but aside from this one minor negative, the text was a delight. The author’s elegant narrative reeled me in from the first line, and certainly didn’t read like a debut!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for this absolute privilege. I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy!
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Edgware Road has an interesting premise, told in dual timelines: in one, Khalid Qureshi gets involved with dodgy deals in the late 1980s in an attempt to follow his dreams and support his family, whilst the other sees his daughter Alia in 2003, struggling to understand the events that lead to Khalid's mysterious death decades earlier.

I liked the writing style and found myself intrigued by the plot - however, none of the characters felt fleshed out as much as they could have been. I also felt that the book itself wasn't sure what genre it wanted to be, whether that was a family drama, or an mystery/thriller type novel.
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Firstly, I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book! It was a fresh story that gripped me from the very beginning. 

The story itself is told in two timelines, one is set in the 1980s and follows one of the main characters Khalid Quraishi, who has a nearly perfect life, including a well-paid job and a happy family. Although he has it all he still wants more, the money, the grand life and the fame. This dream of his makes him play the odds, gamble and make deals with very dodgy people and businesses. At the same time, he is also fighting his own demons and addictions and all of that put together slowly destroys his perfect family and life.  

The second timeline is set in 2003 and follows Alia Quraishi, Khalid’s daughter, as she is determined to find out what happened to her father in the late 80s when he just disappeared when she was just a little girl. Alia follows her faint memories of her father, which leads her to not only find out the destiny of her father but also allows her to explore her roots, her family relationships and herself. 

I loved how the chapters intertwined from one timeline to another to keep the suspension and mystery of what happened to Khalid constantly going. The story itself is very beautifully written and at times with such detailed descriptions, I felt like I was in the book with those characters, looking at the world the way they saw it, living their life and feeling the emotions they felt. Honestly, not many books make me feel like I am in the story together with the characters, and that is one of the things that made this book really stand out for me.
 
I also really liked how history and life in London's West End and then the BCCI scandal was included in this book to keep that tension and mystery surrounding the life that Khalid lead throughout the book. I didn’t know much about the 80s in the UK and this book really taught me a lot about that time, especially how life was back then in London for the higher class and minority groups. 

I must note that Alia’s character left a big impression on me because she grew so much as a character as the book progressed. As she learned more about her family, her father and the past, she found a sense of belonging and finally realised who she really is and for me, that is one of many strong messages that this book was trying to convey to the readers. 

Although, because the book was so gripping and the build-up to the end was so good, I was a tad disappointed by the ending. I think I just expected some sort of wow factor or an exciting twist at the end…However, the ending was still very good and made me sit and think for a while about everything that happened in this book

Overall, it was a brilliant book, with beautifully crafted characters and a gripping storyline. I recommend this book, as it is a story that explores family, relationships, different generations, and much more…. A book that should be an addition to everyone’s 2022 TBR book pile.
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Twenty years after Khalid’s death, his daughter Alia embarks on a determined journey, attempting to uncover the truth of his death which was quickly dismissed by the police as an accident. A story told in parallel takes us back to the 1980’s, where the “lucky” Khalid finds his life unravelling as a result of his gambling addiction. Travelling from Oxford to Pakistan, Alia meets her father’s family who embrace her as the only daughter and embodiment of their charismatic son. She then returns to his old stomping ground, Edgeware Road, retrieving lost childhood memories, attempting to reconnect with his old friends and a final revelatory journey to Goa.  This is a fantastic debut novel with truly engaging characters and a realistic portrayal of multicultural and edgy London.
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Some books make you feel transported to another pace and another timeline, I felt like this while reading “Edgware Road”. Interesting and real it was not difficult to fall in love with the story of the Quraishi’s life.
The story is told between two different time periods; 2003 where Alia Quraishi wants to know who her father was and what happened to the kind mind she remembers. And then the past, 1981, where the young Khalid Quraishi starts his dangerous life in gambling.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this read; it’s intriguing and full of characters making it impossible for the reader to stop turning pages to discover what really happened to Khalid. His death was an accident or someone did it? He was really surrounded by dangerous people at the time, so it will be in Alia’s hand’s to discover the truth. But, will she be putting her life in danger too? The gambling world is dark and dangerous… maybe a killer on the run? Of course you’ll have to read the book if you want to know all the answers!
But I can assure you that it’s worth the read, even if the beginning seems slow paced is like a spider web that attracts you and you don’t know how to leave.
Are you ready to discover the story of “Edgware Road”?
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Both Khalid and Alia are gripping protagonists. Following their lives, unfolding stories and unraveling secrets is intriguing and makes you want more. I loved them. I feel like the Denby plot really detracted from the novel and the focus could have been solely on the Quaraishi’s, their rises and falls, their tragedies. Overall a beautiful and interesting read,l that carries you all over London and farther. Really stunning writing.
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Edward Road is the scene of Khalid’s London ventures after he comes from Karachi for what he expects to be a better life. His job is supervising gambling tables which brings him into contact with some dubious patrons. He marries and has a daughter Alia. The story deals with his change of job when the casino closes and his involvement with the under the counter activities of dodgy international bank. He is found dead in circumstances that remain in solved. Meanwhile an aspiring Labour politician considers exposing the bank. Many years later his daughter tries to discover what happened to her father. The story is very well created and delivered. The temptations and challenges for immigrants are handled very well. This is a gripping read and I recommend it.
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I was really excited to read a book set in Edgware road, having lived there myself and being a middle eastern woman, I really appreciated the specificity and representation that the story provided. The writing is confident in a way that keeps you engaged and the plot itself is fine. I wouldn’t call it mind-blowingly good but you won’t be disappointed either, probably best described as being perfectly adequate.

*** I received an early complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own
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This book is dual timeline, in one we follow the events that unfold as Alia waits at Edgware tube station for her father, Khalid, only he never shows and his body is later discovered by the police in what they describe to be an accidental drowning. In the other timeline we get to see Khalid as he falls in love and marries his wife, Suzie, and we meet little baby Alia, we learn about her father’s gambling problem and his involvement in some not so legal deals with people you would not want to be alone in a dark alley with. We see Alia at college as she tries to learn what happened to her dad, who he really was, and how her father even ended up in the UK to begin with(her father originated from Pakistan). 

This story is filled with real life characters and events which made it all the more fun to read, this is one that grips you from the start as you become connected with the characters and find yourself wanting to understand what happened to Khalid. This is a very cleverly written book about corruption, migration and privilege. well worth a read.

Thank you Head of Zeus for sending me a proof and having me on the blog tour.
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Thank you so much to the publishers for providing me with a copy of this!

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It is such a unique story set between 1980s and the present. Think family dramas with an underlying unresolved mystery.

At the start of the book, we meet Khalid, an 18 year old from Pakistan, who moves to London to study Engineering. He soon discovers that his student income is not sufficient to maintain the high profile life that he desires. In order to earn more money, he begins to work as a croupier at a casino near Edgware Road, however he becomes involved with much more than he bargained for.

The book flicks between Khalid’s past, and the present where his daughter, Alia, is trying to work out what happened to her father after his is found dead under mysterious circumstances. I loved this underlying sense of mystery and it kept me guessing throughout. Through her search for the truth about her father, Alia also begins to discover more about her family roots.

There were lots of topics discussed in this book that did sometimes leave me feel confused and feeling like I’d missed something. However, I did really enjoy the way it was written and I loved that all the characters’ stories were interconnected.

I think this will be a popular book that will be enjoyed by many!! I’m really looking forward to seeing what people think of it!🥰
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Our story begins in 1981 with Khalid Quraishi, a man who considers himself lucky in more ways than one. He has a beautiful wife and daughter, and a job he loves rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty in the glitzy Playboy casino in London's West End. It's a world away from his upbringing in Karachi, and he sees bright things ahead for him and his family. But Khalid is also a gambler, and his compulsion to play the odds in pursuit of that tantalising big win leads leads him into trouble. 

1987 finds him with a broken marriage and desperate to recapture his dreams. When he is offered the chance of a lifetime to get involved with a business deal involving the creation of a new bank, he is sure that this will be the big break he needs. But appearances can be deceptive and this time the gamble involves some very dodgy business partners.

In 2003, Khalid's daughter Alia has only hazy memories of her father, as she saw little of him after her parents' divorce, beyond infrequent meetings at Underground stations around London. When he was found dead in 1987, after failing to turn up to one of their father-daughter Tube meetings, the police put his death down to an accident - although the fact that his body was dragged from the Solent was rather odd for a man who lived in the Edgware Road. This loss has always left Alia feeling that she knows little about the Pakistani half of her heritage, and how this impacts her own sense of identity. The time has come for her to find out what sort of man Khalid was and why he ended his days in a watery grave...

This is a book full of delicious surprises! It starts with the slow-burn of a domestic drama of a family torn apart by one man's ambition and inability to control his gambling addiction, and then heads off into a glorious twisty and expansive mystery thriller that delves into corruption, ineptitude, and very dark deeds.

Although the novel begins way back in 1981, the story primarily consists of two timelines - 1987, with Khalid's tale, and a parallel thread from a new MP in the House of Commons, Mark Denby; and 2003 when Alia is compelled to find out more about her father. The timelines swap back and forth building layer upon layer, until we begin to see the truth about Khalid's foolish naivety, and how he gets himself mired in underhand deals on a global scale through a chance meeting with Saudi businessman and arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. 

Alia's detective work drives the story, ratcheting up the tension and pulling you in as she tracks down the clues, confronts the complicit, and reels from the impact of what she finds out. The significant emotional impact of what she discovers is really interesting, affecting not only her view of her father, but also the way she sees herself and what she is due. I also thoroughly enjoyed how Mark Denby is used as a story device to shed light on the truly shocking scale of the corruption Khalid unwittingly becomes involved in, and adds a very cleverly worked element of tangible menace and very believable conspiracy to the piece.

The scale of this novel is immense in the way it brings is themes of identity; the driving ambition of immigrants desperate to leave their old lives behind, and yet tied to their heritage; the complexities of family dynamics; and a whole raft of political and societal issues. I was especially struck by the way Cordery Khan does such an impressive job conjuring the perfect feeling of time and place for every single part of this truly stunning debut. It's not just that she takes us from London to Pakistan and back again and across the different timelines so well, but the way she brings the complicated and contradictory sides of the late 1980s alive in these pages so authentically, recreating the brashness, the clash of cultures, the tense political atmosphere under Thatcher, the endemic racism and sexism yet to be addressed, while at the same time blending real and fictional characters, and pervading this all with the unmistakable sense that change is coming. As someone old enough to remember all this first hand, I am in awe!

This is a book that easily makes it onto the pile of my books of the year. Definitely one you do not want to miss!
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From the very start I knew I would be hooked on this book - I loved the prologue and Khalid and Imran’s characters!
It proved to be a gripping and emotive tale of family and immigrant identity and experiences!!
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Well-written and well-researched, this debut novel is also a great read, with evocative descriptions of 1980s London, and a dual timeline with a family secret at its core. Recommend.
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