Member Reviews

Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting into this book. It's not bad, it's just not for m but I did like the cultural pieces of the story.

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2 stars. I read this book in early March and handwrote a review immediately after, but just got around to inputting it into Goodreads. I actually listened to this book, although I had received an ARC from NetGalley in the previous year. When I requested the book , the premise sounded interesting, but there were way too many issues that the book tried to cover. I was so tempted to DNF, but I was hoping the book would improve and be able to pull off all that it hoped to and since it was an ARC from NetGalley, I felt I really needed to read and review it. I see there is a 2nd book in the series, I will not be reading it, but I do hope that it is better.; I think this may have been her debut novel.

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Blackwater Falls introduces Detective Inaya Rahman. As a member of the Community Response Unit (CRU) for the Denver Police, her job is not only to solve murders but also to help bridge the gap between the police and the local populations. As Detective Rahman and her team investigate the murder of a young Syrian refugee, they uncover a string of disappearances. The disappearance of Muslim girls within the Blackwater community, while investigated, has largely been passed off as runway events. But the CRU team has reason to believe there is a coverup happening in Blackwater, and they indeed to find out what truly happened to the girls.

While Detective Rahman is our primary POV, we do get a few additional viewpoints throughout the story. Since I love strong female characters, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the thoughts of our other female leads. For the most part I felt that we got to know our main characters, and while I would like more growth, you can already feel it setting the stage for the rest of the series.

I did enjoy this book and the diversity that Khan included. I’m the first to say that I read as an escape from my busy life and what’s going on in the world. So, while I can certainly appreciate the way Khan explored immigration, racism, religious biases, and preconceived prejudices; I did feel that it bogged down the story in a few places and makes this more of a heavy read. To me it almost seemed as if Khan was trying to do too much with this first installment, and some of these themes may have been better introduced slowly over a couple of books. The romance that starts budding, is a prime example of that. It felt like an afterthought thrown in to potentially ‘soften’ the story, but I could have done without it.

I wouldn’t classify this as a thriller and would say it’s more of a literary mystery than anything else, and will certainly make you think. If you’re looking for a new Detective series, and don’t mind a more political story, than Blackwater Falls is going to be a great series for you.

Blackwater Falls is out now. Huge thank you to Minotaur Books and St. Martin’s Press for my copy in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review, please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my Instagram @speakingof.books.

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This is an excellently crafted story with interesting twists and turns. The characters are well-developed and offer a refreshingly different and timely perspective from the standard detective thriller. I can't wait for more books in this series.

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The beginning of this book started off great - the set up of the mystery was interesting and compelling and I appreciated the cultural aspects and the political landscape of this novel. I did feel like the story lulled in the middle for me - the book got quite heavy on politics and there was a plethora of characters, which led to the story being a little too convoluted. That being said, I also went back and forth between the audiobook and the ebook for this one and keeping track of all this via audio is definitely harder.

All in all, would definitely recommend for those who like police procedurals with political elements and discussions about social issues within communities.

Content warnings: Racism, islamophobia, police brutality, chronic illness, mentions of domestic abuse, descriptive scene in a meat packing plant.

Thank you to Minotaur books, St-Martin's Press and Netgalley for the ARC for review. All opinions are my own.

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Normally I like police procedure books but this is one I had a really hard time getting into. The writing was not for me and I was unable to feel for any of the characters. As a very character focus reader if I cannot connect with at least one the story is not going to work for me.
I do not think that this is a bad book in any way just not one for me.

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It's not often one wishes protagonists of a crime book were real people. In my case this has only ever happened with Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache and Frederique Molay's Paris Homocide series. So Ausma Zehanat Khan is in excellent company. Detective Inaya Rahman and Lieutenant Waqas Seif came alive for me while reading Blackwater Falls and I couldn't get enough of their dynamic. This is a book series I knew I'd be committing to for the long haul.

Blackwater falls managed to entertain and delve into some deep, heavy subjects which is not an easy feat. Inaya Rahman is fierce, driven, great at her job (the kind of female lead I absolutely love) but the story also allows us to join her on the journey of exploring her identity and searching for a place/space of belonging. Ausma Zehanat Khan skilfully incorporates themes of ethnic/religious identities especially in the context of (both overt and covert) racism and discrimination. Amidst murder and mayhem, Inaya's friendship with attorney Areesha Adams and Detective Catalina Hernandez was such a grounding, stabilizing element and I was there for it.

This book is perfect for fans of beautifully written police procedurals/murder mysteries with the right balance of character development and well paced plot. I honestly cannot wait to get my hands on Blood Betrayal (book #2) and not just because Lieutenant Waqas Seif is my new book boyfriend.

A big thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books for gifting me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

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Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this novel, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This was a very compelling mystery, with a different slant to it. Detective Inaya Rahman is part of a special team of the Denver police department, charged with dealing with crimes with sensitive community issues. They are charged with dealing with the murder of a young Syrian refugee girl, in Blackwater Falls, which has a significant refugee population from various Muslim countries. In the course of the investigation, she finds that several refugee girls have gone missing, but that the disappearances have been brushed off with the excuse by the sheriff that they were probably runaways, because their families were too strict.

The investigation is further complicated by the fact that it's pretty clear that the sheriff and the powers that be that run the town are basically corrupt and anti-immigrant (although they definitely need the immigrants to do the dangerous and nasty work in the meat packing plant).

There are a whole lot of issues thrown into this book - murder, prejudice, corruption - but they all hang together well. During the course of the book, Inaya is also having to question her superior officer's position - is he corrupt as well, or can she trust him? Her own family is touched by the prejudice, as her younger sister is harassed. Just to add an extra bit of interest, there are a couple of potential developing romances here!

I enjoyed this very much, and am looking forward to the second book in the series.

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Blackwater Falls by Ausma Zehanat Khan is the first book in a new crime series. In this book, we meet Detective Inaya Rahman who starts to investigate a murder and discovers a link to other missing and murdered girls. I liked this book not only for it’s story line but for the fact that it features different cultures.

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I could not get into this, though I really tried. I felt like the plot and characters were all over the place and not very coherent. It had some good concepts, just not executed well, for me. I ended up not caring much about anything and did not want to continue, so I didn't

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Just a great mystery, all the way around. Well crafted and taut with tension. I am excited for this to be a series!

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Thank you to Netgalley, St. Martins Press, and Ausma Zehanat Khan for an advance copy of Blackwater Falls in exchange for an honest review. This was the first installment in a new thriller crime series and it did not disappoint! This series follows Detective Inaya Rahman as she tries to track down where and why girls from immigrant communities are going missing. This book brought up so many themes of police corrruption, racial issues, and religion in such a seamless way. I loved the friendship that Inaya had with her fellow detective, Catalina and the lawyer, Areesha. I look forward to reading the second book of this series and you can pick up Blackwater Falls now!

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The discussion of race and religion and all the prejudice that comes with that is so very well done in this police procedural. It's one of my favourite genres but one so saturated in the point of view of white men in particular, this was a very nice addition to the genre. I have a feeling it'll become a series, and one that I'm eager to continue. The main plot line surrounds missing and murdered girls and how little the police chief is willing to investigate when they are children of colour. Really interesting and well paced out main storyline and the characters were well fleshed out considering it's the first of a potential series. Can't wait for more!!

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Blackwater Falls....

Sounds spooky right?

You, betcha!

Blackwater Falls is the first in the soon to be series. Having read The Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak series by Ausma Zehanat Khan, I knew I was in for a treat.

In order to master the craft of mystery novels you need to be an expert in your field. As an avid book reader like most of you, its very hard to keep the suspense going until the twist/conclusion for me. However, Khan has it down to a science. I am yet to predict the ending of even one of her books. Blackwater Falls, was no different.

This book has every key component for a hit !

Blackwater Falls is packed to the brim when it comes to suspense, the lingering anxiety you will feel while reading will stay with you long after concluding.


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.

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Khan is a Canadian writer, living in the US. From an immigrant family, she holds a Ph.D. in international law. Blackwater Falls is her first entry in a new mystery series set in Colorado. When a young Syrian refugee is found murdered in the local mosque, investigations lead to high level corruption and extreme racism. I’ve read several other mysteries by this author and found them all interesting reads.

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The picturesque town of Blackwater Falls in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado seems an ideal place to live and work. The setting is glorious, with camping and trails for visitors.

The leading employers are Apex Dynamics, a tech research firm, and Natural Foods, a meatpacking plant. There is also a large population of Muslim refugees from all over the world, primarily Syria and Somalia, most of whom work at Natural Foods.

Underneath the surface, however, bubbles a stew of hate and corruption. The hate comes from a prominent evangelical church and its accompanying biker gang, the Disciples. The corruption stems from the Sheriff, who has a finger in every pie and absolute control in the town. Inaya Rahman is a local who has returned after a traumatic stint at the Chicago PD. She is part of the new Community Response Unit, led by Lt. Waqas Seif. Her first significant crime is genuinely horrific, the murder of a promising refugee student, Razan Elkader. Razan was nailed to the door of the local Mosque in a sick parody of the Crucifixion. The disappearance of two Muslim teenage girls preceded the murder of Razan, ruled runaways by the Sheriff with little to no investigation. Neither the church nor the Sheriff has escaped scrutiny. The FBI has an operative implanted with the Disciples and the police department.

Blackwater Falls is a complex and timely novel in which just about everyone’s motives are suspect at one time or another. Inaya is a well-portrayed character, as are her Hispanic partner and a Black firebrand attorney. Both are female, and the three become close friends and colleagues. I suppose I am as ignorant as many Americans about the lives of immigrants. Blackwater Falls gave me a look into those lives, especially a Muslim woman who wants to operate as a professional yet feels the tug of her religious beliefs. Inaya’s decision to wear the hijab when the other women in her family do not is just one instance.

The themes of violence and social justice resonate in Blackwater Falls and make for a compelling read.

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Inaya Rahman is a detective in Denver, as well as being a member of the Community Response team. Unfortunately Detective Rahman is investigating the death of a Syrian refugee named Razan Elkader, a high school student found on the door of a mosque, almost appearing as though she had been crucified. Sadly, Blackwater Falls is a town that many feel is a hate-filled community influenced by the church and its leader, Gentleman Jack John Wayne, a man whos church is centered around anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment. He even has a biker gang, known as the Disciples, who aren’t opposed to using violence to make their message clear. As Inaya’s investigation uncovers some truths, will Blackwater Falls face these truths, or attempt to cover them up at any cost?

I liked the story, but it seemed a little overloaded with characters; if not for my notes I think I may have gotten lost and confused. Blackwater Falls is a very timely, relevant novel. It covers a lot of themes–racism and prejudice; anti-refugee and anti-Muslim sentiment; love, family and friends; as well as loyalty and courage– that are quite representitive of feelings and beliefs in today’s society. The characters are very representative of society as well, coming from all walks of life and from so many beautiful ethnicities and cultures. I enjoyed the story and the mysteries surrounding the girls; the complex, multi-layered mystery made for an enjoyable, unpredictable novel.

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BLACKWATER FALLS (PolProc-Det. Inaya Rahman-Colorado-Contemp)
Ausma Zehanat Khan – 1st of series
Minotaur Books, Nov 2002, 400 pp

First Sentence: No death could have been more profound.

It started well and was interesting through the first third of the story. Sadly, it then bogged down to a point of overwhelm of politics. Islamophobia is an important topic, but when it buries the energy of the story, you've lost the plot.

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This was a wonderful mystery involving Detective Inaya Rahman and a host of police personnel investigating the death of Syrian high school student Razan Elkader who is murdered at a Mosque in Colorado. The book involves solving the murder with many twists and turns. As well as the murder racial tensions rise and add to the story. I did not see the end coming. I thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

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This is the 1st in a new mystery/police detective/crime series, by an author I hadn't heard of. It's a very serious, & scary real plot, & quite complicated. I thought the possible 'nearness to reality/current events' might be the scariest thing about the story. This book introduces some unique continuing characters, & they are kind of complicated too. The story moves right along, despite it's complexity. It was a good read, but not an easy one....due to it's subject matter, & learning about the ways of the new characters introduced. You probably won't want to watch a basketball game while reading this....this book will want all your attention!
I received an e-ARC from St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books via NetGalley in return for reading it & posting an honest review.

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