Member Reviews

3.5 stars

All in all, a pretty good start to a detective series! I liked Inaya; really all the characters were well-developed. Check this out if you like procedurals or want a mystery with more diverse representation!

Let’s break this down:
✨Pros
*fleshed out characters
*good setup for a series
*diverse cast of characters
*insightful commentary on religion and masculinity
*interesting mystery

✨Cons
*unnecessary (imo) romance
*dragged in the middle
*an amount of side characters that is borderline confusing
*a tad heavy-handed with some of the messages and themes (though I do agree with them)
-
Thank you so much to Minotaur books @minotaur_books for providing this ebook in exchange for my honest thoughts!

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This crime procedural novel starts with a body being found at a mosque and our detective has to uncover the case without getting hurt in the process. When you are dealing with a small town murder, and Inaya Rahman is a Muslim woman, it adds dimensions that other crime books do not afford. The cultural elements really made the book stand out. The perception of Christian Communities and possible police corruption and other elements are exposed. I thought the cutlural elements of her mother wanting to get her married was hilarious.

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Really enjoyed this. Complex plot and well developed characters that truly grew on me. I love her series, featuring Rachel Getty and Esa Khattek, and this is hopefully this is the start a new series too.

This is set in Denver, and it is politically intriguing, bringing up a number of issues that affect various communities. It was quite well done, and interspersed nicely with the central mysteries.

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3.5

I have really mixed feelings about Blackwater Falls. I like this take on a traditional police procedural. It deals heavily in modern politics and so calls out a lot of big issues. For some that will be an immediate turn off, and while I did find it a little heavy handed at times I appreciated what the author set out to accomplish.

The main character is a Muslim woman who is working in the Community Response Unit and I liked that we got to see her internal conflict of wanting to do the right thing and be good at her job while understanding that to the communities she is trying to serve she is seen as a traitor for working for what they view as a corrupt institution. The main plot is trying to solve the murder of a Syrian refugee but along the way we see plot threads that deal with not only racial tensions and police brutality but also the alt-right, corrupt politicians, union busting, and so much more.

Ultimately, when I was reading it, I was fully engaged but when I put it down I had little desire to pick it back up. I think part of that reticence was the feeling of too much going on. From my understanding this is meant to be the start of a series that follows Inaya Rahman and company and the book does leave off in a way that makes me want to find out more about the macro-plot. However, in this installment there were investigations inside investigations, a vaguely romancey subplot, and so much social commentary that it started to feel like in an effort to lay the groundwork for the series Ausma Zehanat Khan lost the thread of this particular plot.

That being said, I will likely check out the sequel when it is released because I am interested in some of the macro plot elements.

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I enjoyed this mystery/thriller. I found it a bit hard to follow all the separate threads, and the ending felt a little forced, but I appreciated the topical feel of the book and the racial and religious tensions that ran under the surface. It did feel like the beginning of a series in some ways, as many character development points were left open ended. There were quite a few typos/grammar errors in my copy, but hopefully those will be corrected in the finished product. Overall a good thriller.

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I really wanted to enjoy this. It had so much potential. Crime shows are all over our tvs, and the premise of BLACKWATER FALLS was excellent. But the story and the writing fell flat for me.

It was messy. The plot was all over the place, I couldn't keep up. It's told from mostly the perspective of the MC, but then we'd have a POV from a supporting character, randomly. We get little to no backstory, so it was hard to connect with the characters. The author tried to throw in a romantic arc, but it was so poorly done I thought it was a joke.

This may sound harsh, and I apologize, but it was just so bad. I give this two stars because the synopsis was written better than the book.

Thank you NetGalley & Minotaur & St. Martin's Press for inviting me to read this book. I hope someone out there enjoys it and maybe the sequel will be better.

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Blackwater Falls is the initial book in a new series from Ausma Zehanat Khan, whose Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty Mysteries, set in Canada, became a favorite of mine. This new series features Inaya Rahman, part of the Community Response Unit of the Denver Police Department seconded to Blackwater Falls to work on a particularly grim murder, one staged as the crucifixion of a local Muslim high school student. Inaya herself is Muslim, as are other newcomers to the town, Somali refugees important to local businesses. Conflicts around race, gender and color are prominent among some elements in town.

Among the rest of the team are Lieutenant Seif, her superior, somewhat of an enigma at times especially in his dealings with Inaya; Catalina Rivera Hernandez, known as Cat, a third generation Chicana with knowledge of criminal psychology; and Jaime Webb, the junior on the team. The pool of suspects includes much of the town which has a sheriff’s department rife with corruption, a local church that doesn’t appear very welcoming of new people; and prominent industry and schools.

I enjoyed getting to know these new characters though there were a few hiccups. Some romantic elements might have been better left on the shelf for a later episode perhaps, though I realize some of these people are meant to have known each other for a while. Also, Seif’s behavior occasionally became unexplainable. Perhaps too much was attempted in the first book. But Khan did pull it out nicely and I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

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DNF - This is a simple case of me, most probably, not being the ideal reader for this book. I'm sure it will garner much success & appreciation from many readers dedicated to the Mystery genre.

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Blackwater Falls is a story full of mystery, murder, refugees, corruption in police, and racial tension.
This story will certainly make you think and maybe even give you a different perspective on what is going on in our world.
I thought this book was going to a police crime fiction read. It read more as a story about social issues within the community.
Overall, a very dark, disturbing read that will have you thinking about what you believe in.
Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read this book for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own,

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This is the first book in a new series by this author and the first book I have read in her library of titles. The background story of racism, both in the town and as part of the law enforcement community, gives the story a completely different feel. You see the struggles the two female police officers face simply because they are women of color in a predominately white neighborhood. Blackwater Falls is a small town not far from Denver. Young women have been murdered, seemingly because of their skin color. When the response of the local police is questioned, the Community Response Team from the DPD, assume the investigation.

The mystery/ thriller story is a good one. It fills every requirement needed to make it an excellent reading choice. The racism and prejudice adds an unusual element to the story. The characters stand out as different, yet work hard to blend in and solve these awful crimes. Ausma Zehanat Khan has skillfully blended the characters and their environments into an excellent start to what should be a long series. I'd recommend this book and the author's prior series to anyone who loves mystery/ thrillers but is looking for something a little...or alot....different.

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I enjoyed this book. I think it helped for me to have the perspective of having read her other series (Khattak and Getty) before this. So I wasn't surprised by the intense and flowery language, or by the melodramatic hints of romance. I got used to those in the other books so I was fine with them here, even though the romance parts are my least favorite.

This novel, like the books in the other series, brings out so many compelling issues and faces them head on. Racism, police corruption, anti Muslim sentiment in churches and biker gangs, capitalist warmongering, arms manufacturers, ICE and border patrol, anti-union sentiment... I could probably think of more if I didn't move along with my review.

Inaya is a great character to read - she's torn between being a police officer and the communities who don't trust her because she is police. She's a Muslim woman in Colorado who no longer wears a head scarf but still has strong religious and cultural beliefs. She's an imperfect character but that makes her even more compelling. She definitely gets herself into a lot of dangerous situations, I noticed. The murder mystery is disturbing and complicated and has Inaya chasing down all kinds of leads. Her relationship with a community civil rights attorney is interesting as she determines what she should share with the lawyer or not, and feels some jealousy about how the community trusts the lawyer. Throw in a couple undercover FBI agents and a corrupt sheriff and you've got a thick, thick novel that still is satisfying.

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First entry in the Detective Inaya Rahman crime series. . Young immigrant girls are going missing in a small town in the Colorado foothills, yet the local sheriff is slow to act. As a member of an immigrant family of the Islamic faith herself Inaya is deeply disturbed. When a popular Syrian student is found crucified at the door of the local mosque the Community Response team is called in from Denver. This novel is very contemporary spotlighting the current tension in regard to the border and influx of Muslim refugees.. The story's strength is in the characters and the developing bond between Inaya and other strong women including a Hispanic social worker and an African American attorney. This was an intense almost disturbing read addressing modern society's warts...social injustice, hate crimes, the growing evangelical movement , police corruption and the creation of our current toxic environment. If you enjoy strong female characters in a challenging setting and learning more about other cultures and faiths .I recommend this compelling narrative.

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Blackwater Falls by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Detective Inaya Rahman is investigating the death of young Razan Elkaders in a small town near Denver, Colorado. It is a gruesome murder. In fact, several scenes in this story, in my opinion, need a trigger warning for some readers.

The story is heavy on pointing out prejudice and racism against Black and Brown people. It borders on anti-White sentiment. On the other hand, many cultural practices of the followers of the Muslim faith are pointed out and explained. Fair enough. I am better educated now.

The reveal of the guilty parties in the murder(s) was a long time coming, though the ending all made sense. There are many twists and turns. My overall impression though is that this story was mainly a vehicle to highlight social injustices and anti-Muslim bias in America. I am at a loss to name an audience for this wordy three star read.

I thank #StMartinsPress and #NetGalley for this digital copy for my review.

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At times, I forgot this book was a mystery, and usually, that's not a good thing. However, in this case, it was because I became connected to so much more than finding out who the killer was. This book isn't just about the main crime in question. It's also about police accountability and the inevitable conflicts that occur in a "melting pot" country. It touches on the events of the past couple of years, and it highlights the prejudice against Muslims in particular.
There are reviews that call this book political. I disagree. There are perspectives that come into play, but there are characters who represent all different viewpoints. I would argue that the main theme isn't about politics at all but about accountability and understanding being the two ways that we can overcome prejudices and actions that are taken for granted by the general population.
Overall, I really enjoyed this read--I like the main characters and grew to feel connected to them and their struggles. I can identify with Inaya as a woman of faith in a world that isn't always kind to believers, and I can also sympathize with the frustrations and antagonisms created by religion (not faith). I do think there are caricatures and some stereotypes and situations that feel forced, but the book deepens as it moves forward, and the police procedures and resolving of the crimes unfold really well as the plot thickens.
I recommend this book to people who like police fiction and to people who want to see a different perspective than their own. If there's a second book in this series, I'll definitely read it!

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You know what’s better than a new mystery/thriller series? A new woman-ledmystery/thriller series! Detective Inaya Rahman is new (again!) to BlackwaterFalls, Colorado, but she’s no wet behind the ears cop. She’s part of the city’s new Community Response Unit, led by Lt. Waqas Seif, and her first case is truly horrific: a young Muslim girl murdered and posed like the crucifixion. Blackwater Falls is home to both a megachurch and a large Muslim population from Somalia and elsewhere and the CRU has been sent in to take over the investigation from the local sheriff because he has been accused of corruption and ignoring the needs to the immigrant community. For example, two young Muslim girls disappeared prior to the murder and were ruled as runaways. Needless to say, tensions are running high.

This books does a lot of things incredibly well. My favorite part might be the friendship/relationship between Inaya, herself a Muslim, Caterina Hernandez, Inaya’s partner, and Areesha Adams, a Black community activist lawyer. The love and camaraderie between the three of them makes them quite a force. This book also does a fantastic job of examining racism, racial and religious violence, sexual violence and corruption in the police and church. It was an incredibly thought provoking and timely read.

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Blackwater Falls is the first in a new series featuring Inaya Rahman, a police detective, and her boss, Lt. Waqas "Qas" Seif. They officers from the Denver Police Department's Community Response Unit, assigned to take over a murder investigation in Blackwater Falls, Colorado. This is the first time they have worked closely together. The CSU is assigned to take this case over from Sheriff Grant, who has been the subject of ongoing complaints of harassment against the local refugee community. Among other things, we quickly learn that he minimized and ignored reports that several teenaged girls from that community, two dark skinned Somali girls and one light skinned Syrian girl, all Muslim have gone missing, suggesting they ran away from repressive parents. Except, now Razan, the Syrian girl, has been found, nailed, as if she were crucified, to the door of a local Mosque, wearing clothing intended to make her look like an artist's version of the Virgin Mary. Who killed her and why?

Razan's father worked at the local meat cutting plant, where he was injured and let go without compensation. Is there a connection? Razan received and served out a prestigious internship at a government contractor firm that is engaged in top secret work. Some people resented that the internship did not go to a popular white boy. A local Evangelical church whose preacher rails against the ungodliness of Muslims and the area's immigrant/refugee population draws attention, in particular since some of its members make up a "social" motorcycle club, the Disciples, who can be menacing at a minimum.

There are more potential suspects, but in putting together the Blackwater Falls Community, Khan created both built in conflict and suspicion that reflects some broader perspectives in the US about police, about Muslims, about anti-immigration zealots, about women and about certain types of religious congregations with strong social and political views. Khan avoids stereotyping, highlighting nuances among members of all of these groups, creating individuals with varied backstories, ethnicities, cultures and perspectives. She does this seemingly effortlessly, managing to explain/demonstrate the ridiculousness and danger of stereotyping in the course of her writing.

Blackwater Falls gives us sweet and humorous glimpses of Rahman's family life. Her father is a criminal defense lawyer. Her mother is a homemaker, eager to marry off her eldest daughter. One is Afghan, one Pakistani. Seif, too, is obviously from a Muslim background, but he resists Iyana's comments that might lead to a discussion of his origins. We learn at some point that his parents are dead and that one was Palestinian and one Iranian. There are hints of attraction between Seif, who is not observant and Inaya who is very observant, but more often, we see the conflicts in their approach to their work and their colleagues. There are some terrific female friendships and parent-child relationships and lots of appealing characters.

The mystery is well plotted and Khan is a wonderful writer, never clumsy and always interesting, This was a highly entertaining read and I look forward to the rest of the series.

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This is my #currentaudiobook . Riveting. Amazing respect and representation to a group often overlooked - not just refugees but also young women.
The body of Razan, a young woman refugee who attended a local private school as a scholarship recipient.
The community fails to aid the investigation, already taught to fear the local police - calling Inaya a traitor.
Discovering two other young women are missing, Inaya becomes obsessed - pushing hard for answers.
Very complicated suspense plot. Well done - kept my interest, my empathy and thankful to have such a glossed over issue brought to the forefront.

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Khan describes herself as a "British-born Canadian living in the United States". She holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law" and has written many mysteries. This new release is the beginning of a new series featuring Detective Inaya Rahman, a Muslim woman. It is set in a town in Colorado where two teen girls from the immigrant community have gone missing. Now another teen girl is found murdered and posed at a mosque. Since the local sheriff has been slow to solve the case, Inaya and her boss Waqas are called in to take over. The author's experience with vulnerable communities is evident in this compelling story about corruption and racism and it is a good recommendation for fans of mysteries with some depth. I enjoyed it.

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Look at that rating above. Now, listen to me: I am heartily sick of reading about men who abuse, rape, and murder girls. It's imagery I don't want in my head...real life provides more than enough examples of this disgusting, evil, inexcusable, reprehensible thinking and behavior.

Now are you more impressed that this story earned four stars from me?

Author Zehanat Khan is a talented wordsmith, and a very adept plotmonger. Her hate crime in this story is so extremely nauseating to me that I seriously thought about just not going forward with the read. A young Muslim immigrant girl's body is found crucified on the doors of a local mosque.

That was it for me. I closed the Kindle and just barely didn't delete the DRC. But, as people I know posted reviews that were equally appalled but full of praise (though sometimes they intended it to be condemnation), I thought I should pick up the read. I'm not pleased I did, but I'm glad I've read it.

I am in sympathy with Author Zehanat Khan's politics so I didn't feel it necessary to whinge about them. Her deeply felt disdain for the evangelical christian congregation in this story is short of the religion-blaming game that so many "christians" indulge in (despite their own "savior"'s injunctions not to judge others). I was pleased by that. I'd've been equally pleased had she indulged in christian bashing, though. The fact that she has Inaya ruminating on the *people* who committed this heinous act is a step up from the run-of-the-mill thriller.

The girl-posse that works together was, I suppose, fan service. It didn't make me feel any warmer towards that gynergy-celebrating stuff. It also led me to wonder if, in her authorial haste not to bash men as a whole, she hadn't rushed the possible romantic stuff she's hinting at between Inaya and Lieutenant Seif. It feels too soon to me. I want to get to know her as a person before thinking there might soon be a part-of-a-couple vibe.

More especially I want to see Inaya grow into her own powers as an investigator. This is a rookie's case. Let her get past this, move into a more confident footing, before saddling her with a man. That isn't what's going to happen, it seems, but it was an issue I felt needed to be addressed in my four-star review...as you're beginning to see, I liked the read but wasn't mad for it. I rated it higher than my first instinct said to rate it because it's very important to make these kinds of crimes public. I don't, as said above, like reading about violence against women. I am rather fond of a fair few women and don't wish to think of this kind of horror being perpetrated on them. But it's not like it doesn't happen, and disproportionately to immigrants and women of color; swallowing down my visceral disgust for the kind of sick fuck who could conceive of this crime as an act to be brought to fruition is necessary.

We need, as a society, to have the horrible, painful conversations that are the only way to get past the us-v-them divides that animate these haters. Books, novels most especially, are the premier way to give us permission to discuss hate and its dreadful consequences. I hope a few of y'all will see that opportunity and seize it.

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Blackwater Falls


Detective Inaya Rahman is sent to Blackwater Falls to solve the mystery of the murder crucifixtion of a Muslim teenage girl. As a member of a community response unit of the Denver police department and a practicing Muslim she has a special connection to the community and to the Somali and other Muslin workers in the area. She is in a difficult spot as she takes over from the local sheriff who is suspected of corruption. Is the perpetrator the sheriff, the meat packing plant that the workers tried to unionize or a company that provides military defense on the border? In all cases anti- muslim sentiment prevails. The story delves into the corruption of local authorities and the racism against the Muslim community. A fast read that keeps you guessing until the end.

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