Cover Image: Blackwater Falls

Blackwater Falls

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Member Reviews

Dear Blackwater Falls,
When I requested you on Netgalley, I was sure what I was in for. But once I started listening to you, I was pulled into the small town world of injustice and heartbreak. Being from Colorado myself, I liked the few callbacks to real places that I was familiar with, while slipping into the fictional town of Blackwater Falls. While many of your political topics will be polarizing, and there will be nay sayers of the rampant effects of the systemic racism depicted in your story, i found my eyes being opened even more to how deep the problem goes, and how difficult change can be. I loved how the main investigation was handled by all women of different minorities. Seeing how they have to walk the tricky line between their duty and their culture and how often they were torn between the two. Each character was interesting and I loved seeing the world through Inaya's eyes, how each breech of justice affected her gave her depth for me. I would like to see this turn into a series, and to get deeper into the world of Blackwater Falls.

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Detective Inaya Rahman works as a community policewoman in the Colorado town of Blackwater Falls. When a young woman is found posed as a crucifix on a mosque, Inaya is called to solve the crime. But the town's sheriff is not cooperative. And the discovery of two more missing girls adds complexity to the case. A community organizer offers further resistance. Inaya must also navigate work relationships, her faith and family pressures as she attempts to do her job.
Inaya is a likable character. She's tough but also tender and human. I'd enjoy reading more books that feature her.
I also like the teamwork between the women on the team. And despite differences, the three professionals work well together as they navigate conflict, share their opinions and reach compromises.
This novel includes plenty of present-day trigger topics, including border security, global warfare, religion, politics, police corruption, and racial tension. It's a contemporary novel that's slanted to the left. While I understand the introduction of these topics, I felt preached at rather than encouraged or motivated to learn more and rethink my positions.

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Where's the place you go to take a deep breath? For me, I love heading to the mountains or the beach. The idea of being so small in a world so big is really comforting, in a strange way.

So, when I found out #blackwaterfalls takes place near the mountains in Denver, I knew I had to read this!

📝 Detective Inaya Rahman is sent to Blackwater Falls after the gruesome murder of a young, teenage girl. Soon after, she discovers a connection between the deceased and other missing girls from families who have immigrated to the United States. She tries to get to the bottom of things, but a corrupt police department, along with community members who have such hate for these families, makes getting to the bottom of things almost impossible.

What I 🤍:
☝️ First in a New Detective Series
🔈 Own Voices Representation
💪 Strong, Female Characters
✍️ Well Written, in a Political Climate
💕 Side Romance Beginning

This book is fabulously written, and I felt Khan gave a voice to so many people who's voices are often silenced. With that said, it was a HEAVY read. I really felt for these girls, families, and detectives. PLEASE, swipe to read all the "Book Warnings" before grabbing this book.

Prince's Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Read if ➡️: You want a political, police procedural thriller.
Read 📅: Anytime of Year

I appreciated reading this book, but now I will be reading several light, fluffy reads after this. I am excited to see where this series goes!

Thank you so much to @stmartinspress, @minotaur_books, @azkhanbooks and @netgalley for an ARC of this book.

Blackwater Falls is out now!

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It was tough to read the author's take on the ills of our society as we endure them today. Hate towards immigrants from the middle east and Africa, has escalated into the murder and staged crucifixion of a Syrian girl. An evangelical church is in the mix as well as a meat-packing plant that is hiding the racism and abuse that has found safe harbor in this small-town American nightmare. It is well-worth the read and my thanks go to the author and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of this book.

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With well developed characters and some twisty good turns, Khan gives us perspective into immigrant life. Although cleverly crafted, the story is slow going at times, but with a unique group of detectives and social justice at its core, this book is a great start to a new series. Thank you to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an ARC of this book.

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<b>I was intrigued by the issues raised in <i>Blackwater Falls</i>--police corruption, racial conflict, religious fervor and faith, secret missions, and more--but I felt frequently jarred by uneven pacing and shifts in tone and perspective.</b>

In the Colorado town of Blackwater Falls, girls from immigrant families have been disappearing. But it takes finding the body of a golden-child student and star athlete--positioned for attention in a mosque--for the police to take action.

Detective Inaya Rahman and Lieutenant Waqas "Qas" Seif work to solve the mystery of the girls' murders--running up against complications, prejudices, and roadblocks of all kinds--all the while tentatively exploring the beginnings of feelings they may be having for each other.

In the thriller <i>Blackwater Falls,</i> Ausma Zehanat Khan explores complicated issues surrounding racial injustice, police corruption, political concerns, faith, and religious conflicts that threaten to tear apart a community.

Yet I was frequently distracted by what felt like uneven pacing and tone and abrupt perspective changes, and I couldn't get past the jarring effect of these issues to feel invested in the story.

Some of the characters feel almost like caricatures of bad guys, and it felt too easy to despise them. I also felt a little ill during the page time spent in the slaughterhouse.

But secret missions and identities, nefarious plots, conspiracies, and manipulations add layers to the plot.

<i>Blackwater Falls</i> is the first in a planned series.

I received a prepublication edition of this book courtesy of NetGalley and St. Martin's Press.

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Interesting novel about a small town, three murders, a possibly corrupt police chief, and a criminal bureau or two.
Also incorporates an extensive look at religious differences and cultures.
A good read. Creative character development.
An enjoyable read.
I do recommend.

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This has to be one of the best mystery/thrillers that I have read this year. Khan does an excellent job of telling a compelling story without shying away from the politics and misunderstandings that seem to be rife these days.

Blackwater Falls is located outside of Denver. Inaya Rahman, a practicing Muslim, is a detective there. She, Lieutenant Waqas Seif, and Catalina Hernandez, all of the Community Response Unit, are faced with a horrific case when a young Muslim woman is found in front of a mosque (I will leave it to readers to find out what was done to her). This leaves a family grieving in a community that has a white supremacists population (among others),and a sheriff who seems to be corrupt. This victim is not the only one as readers learn in this suspenseful read. There is a lot to be sorted before there is any justice.

Khan tells a compelling story. Around this, I loved the insights into the lives of the main characters, especially Inaya. Her mother wants her to marry (she is 29), while her father understands her drive for a career.

Inaya is good at what she does and is principled and courageous. She works with her team (though she has some doubts about her lieutenant) and an outside activist, Areesha Adams to solve the case.

The town of Blackwater Falls comes to life in these pages. There are homes, communities, places of worship and work that are all well depicted.

Readers will care about this story, its events and its characters. Highly recommended!

Publishers Weekly gives this one a star and calls it “stunning.” PW also states, “At once suspenseful, moving, and thought-provoking, this is not to be missed.”I agree.

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This 1st in a series introduces half-Afghan half-Pakistani Detective Inaya Rahman in Denver, Colorado. She works as part of the city's Community Response Unit.

Two Somali immigrant teens have disappeared and another immigrant girl is brutally murdered and staged above a mosque door. The Resurrection Church incites violence and the Sheriff is corrupt.

The intricate plot circles around an aerostat design company working on border security. After several violent confrontations, all killings are solved in this spectacular start to a new series.

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4 small town bigots out of 5

"I have to build a little further than my ancestors did. [...] There's a much bigger picture. So it may be terrible when you're in the middle of it, but it's an honor to be chosen for this work."

We've all been to that one event, or stopped for a bite in bumfuck nowhere on our way to elsewhere, only to realize that the people there have WAY different opinions on some serious stuff, and it's about time you GTFO before someone invites you to come pick out your very own pitchfork and torch.

This, in a nutshell, is Blackwater Falls. But instead of pitchforks and torches, you get to pick out your Jesus-fearing tattoo and the colour of your next motorcycle. Or maybe you'd prefer choosing your police rank and which safe will hold your bribe money? High and low, corruption and systemic racism are everywhere in this mountain town.

Detective Inaya arrives, female and Muslim. I think we can all guess how the welcome wagon takes that one. Her and her team have their sights set on cracking the murder of a young Muslim girl, one of what will soon become multiple missing women from a community that already didn't feel safe.

I really loved the main cast of detectives, and Inaya's family. Ausma Zehanat Khan writes with a touching sensibility on their inner conflicts, the struggles in belonging to both the law and a marginalized group, and the admirable perseverence with which Inaya and her colleagues push through the pain to find a semblance of justice.

I will definitely be awaiting the next books of this series!

Big thanks to St. Martins Press for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Oh I just loved everything about this one!! The twists and turn and the number of suspects will make you think. It is so well written and I can't wait to read more from this author.

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Inaya Rahman is a detective with the Community Response team who is investigating a corrupt, racist Sheriff in Blackwater. When a young Muslim girl is found dead, Inaya and her colleagues investigate to find out who killed the victim and why?

This book started a little slow and the writing a bit scattered, but after about a quarter of the book it found it’s rhythm and I got super invested. I really liked the real perspective of lack of diversity in law enforcement and the harassment women of colour face on the daily. This book was real, hard hitting, and heavy at times, but still kept me guessing at who was the killer.

Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This novel was a stretch for me as I confess that if I feel that my own cultural background and experience feels too far from an author’s, that I feel a book may be too difficult for me to stay immersed in. That isn’t from an unwillingness to experience those cultures, but a gained experience that most books in that loose category fail to allow me to comprehend the culture and keeps me out in the hallway, so to speak, not in the room where the action is taking place. I was lured into this mystery due to its setting, rather than the culture in the description. I was rewarded for taking a chance by the very culture that I feared might be too difficult for me to follow. Khan made her characters and their culture relatable despite being so different from my own, and helped me stay in the room with the action, and able to relate to the ethnicities portrayed. As my copy was a galley, I did find some issues with language not being clarified when I felt at a loss to understand words or phrases in what I presume was Arabic. I do hope that is spotted by editors for the published version. Nonetheless, the novel was well plotted and kept me guessing until the final chapters. If you’re a reader who shies away from what you suspect you might not understand, be brave and give this book a chance. I enjoyed the story and would likely undertake other novels by this author.

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The author tried waaaaaay too hard to be political. The writing was great, but it just came across as too much. I don't mind when an author does that, but there's a better way to do it. I almost didn't finish the book, but felt obligated to so I can review. I don't have much else to say about it.

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A Muslim teenager has been murdered and crucified on the door of the mosque in Blackwater Falls, Colorado, a small town near Denver. Detective Inaya Rahman is part of the Community Response Team and is called in to run the investigation.

It’s hard to say why I didn’t love this without spoilers, so I’ll leave it at: slow pacing, a lot of repetition, coupled with too many layers of lies, coverups,, and far-fetched explanations leaves everything muddy and ultimately confusing.

Existing fans of Khan’s work will likely enjoy this, so give it a try if you enjoyed The Unquiet Dead.

(2.5 rounded up)

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Thank you to the publisher for the book.

I loved this. I was intrigued from the beginning and couldn't focus on anything else until I knew what was going to happen. Inaya Rahman is a detective with the Community Response Team in Blackwater Falls (a fictional Colorado town). Women lead this novel. Inaya, Catalina, and Areesha are part of the team trying to find a murderer. The victim, Razan, is a Muslim refugee and STEM focused teenager. The mothers throughout the book also exemplify strength and tradition. Even Inaya's mother: at one point, Inaya's mother is trying to set up an engagement for her daughter amidst this murder investigation. It's a tiny moment that sheds light onto Inaya's personal life.

Blackwater Falls is the first in the series. As I neared the end, I didn't know what questions would be answered. The ending is a perfect blend of closure in the case and intrigue for what's to come next.

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Balckwater Falls by Ausma Zehanat Khan is the first in a new series following Detective Inaya Rahman in the town of Blackwater Falls, CO. The book focuses on important topics including immigration, racisms, politics, religion, and police corruption. I loved the multiple POVs throughout the book and how diverse they were.

I really liked the characters, especially Inaya, who is a Muslim women. Her character was a very well developed; we get a real sense of her inner struggle while balancing her role as a police officer and her role to her community and to her family.

The mystery in the book was very well done and compelling and had so many layers. I really enjoyed reading it and trying to solve the mystery while trying to determine how all the parts and people were connected.

So much groundwork was set-up for the series in this book and my mind is spinning with the possible plot/story of the series and what will come next in future books.

Thank you NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Minotaur Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Blackwater Falls is the first installment in a new series following Detective Inaya Rahman in Blackwater Falls, CO. It's a slow burn police procedural that focuses heavily on important current topics such as immigration, refugees, corruption, police relations with communities of color, racism and politics.

The characters in this book were really interesting. I loved the diversity and the strong females in this book. I felt like most of the female characters, even the minor ones, were really deep and well rounded, and I was really interested in all of their back stories. The male characters were a little more difficult to connect with and I found their motivations were a bit confusing at times.

The mystery was interesting, and I couldn't wait to see how it would all pan out. There is some great tension built between Detective Rahman's team and the local PD, and I hope to see some more of that in future installments. I didn't really buy the budding romance or the chemistry, but I'm hoping that fleshes itself out a little more in the next book.

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Book one in a new crime series featuring Detective Inaya Rahman.
She is investigating missing immigrant girls with a sheriff who is slow to act. When a teenage Syrian refuge is found murdered in a mosque it’s discovered that her death is linked to the missing girls.
This was a compulsive read filled with racial tension, corruption and politics. I am all in on this series.
Thank you #minotaur #NetGalley and #librofm for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I really wanted to like this book, but ultimately, it fell short of the mark for me. The plot sounded intriguing, a Muslim girl murdered and displayed like she’d been crucified just screamed possibilities. However, from the slow pacing to the disorganized plot, I almost DNF’d this one. The only reason I didn’t is because I thought that being written from a Muslim perspective, there was something to learn, so I kept going.

The author did a few things very well. I thought that Detective Rahman’s struggle to reconcile who she was with the pressures put upon her because of what she believed was something that everyone can relate to on some level, and was an excellent bridge between mainstream Christian America and the Muslim community to build empathy. To that end, I also think that showing us what Muslims and refugees face in this country via the characters in this book was handled very compassionately.

However, this book was just not for me. Quite literally, I think. I liked the insight into what Muslim life looks like in America, but I wanted more. There were things that as a white Christian woman I didn’t understand that a Muslim reader would relate to so much more. I wanted more detail or explanation, but I also understand that it isn’t the burden of minority communities to educate me, and explaining those things in the story would have taken away from the thriller aspect of this plot, more than the pacing and disorganization already did.

When I read a thriller, I expect it to keep me on edge the whole time, and this book just did not. The pacing was so slow that more often than not, I would fall asleep after only a page or two. When I was able to make it past that, I struggled to keep up with what was happening. Sometimes, the writing was clear, other times it seemed like parts were added as afterthoughts without making sure that it really flowed. The overall effect was confounding.

Adding to the overall confusion, the multiple POVs were not done well, in my opinion. I spent a large amount of time at the beginning of each chapter trying to figure out whose POV I was in. The language at the beginning of each chapter didn’t always immediately identify which character’s view we were seeing. Sometimes it seemed like it could be from either Qas’ or Inaya’s POV, or both at the same time, or multiple POVs in one chapter without any break to identify the POV change.

Another problem I had with this book was that the synopsis led me to believe that Inaya, Catalina, and Areesha would be more of a girl power trio than they were, but instead, Catalina and Areesha were relegated to subpar, flatly drawn supporting characters and didn’t add much to the story. Instead, there was more focus on the attraction between Qas and Inaya, which in my opinion did nothing for the story at all. This felt like a missed opportunity.

While the pacing took away from the “thriller” aspect of this story, it was a startling look at the prejudice, bigotry, us/them dichotomy, and hate that divides our country so prevalently today, making this a timely and relevant story for our time. The Disciples biker gang, Pastor Wayne, and the fellow cops in Inaya’s flashback all came across as flat stereotypical figures spewing hate and ignorance that was hard to believe that anyone could actually believe it enough to say. However, as any news site will tell you, it’s all very real, especially for the people that this hatred and ignorance are aimed at.

While I believe that these stories are important and necessary to educate and to build empathy and understanding in a predominantly White Christian America, I fear the shortcomings of this story will prevent that from happening in this case. I almost gave up on it myself, so if others do that, then they’ll never learn from the story.

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