Member Reviews

A chilling page turner from the opening pages I was drawn in.Inaya Rahman the lead character is so interesting so strong.This book involves murder, faith in a reality well written mystery.I am looking forward to reading the next in the series and more by this very talented author.#netgalley #blackwaterfalls

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I appreciated the construction of the story and the handling of important and timely topics in Blackwater Falls. However one thing that distracted me from the heart of the story was that Inaya, the main character, seemed to feel that every male was more handsome than the previous one introduced. Overall this is a good beginning of a new series.

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“Blackwater Falls,” by Ausma Zehanat Khan, Minotaur Books, 384 pages, Nov. 8, 2022.

This is the first in a new crime series introducing Detective Inaya Rahman, who is part of the Community Response Unit.

Girls from immigrant communities have been disappearing for months in the Colorado town of Blackwater Falls, but Addison Grant, the local sheriff, is slow to act. Then the body of a student and refugee, Syrian teenager Razan Elkader, is positioned deliberately in a mosque.

Detective Inaya Rahman and Lieutenant Waqas Seif of the Denver Police are assigned to investigate Razan’s murder. They 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 turns to her female colleagues, attorney Areesha Adams and Detective Catalina Hernandez, for help.

The lead characters are interesting, but unfortunately there are shortcomings in this novel. The first comes quickly, when Inaya faints at a crime scene. The East Asian women are stereotypically depicted and the story moves slowly until it just bogs down.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, the advance reader's edition of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a review.

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Read this book if you like: Murder mysteries, procedural cop stories, police corruption strories, many cultures represented

This is the first book of a new series featuring Muslim Detective Inaya Rahman. It's set in a small town outside of Denver, Colorado.

Girls from immigrant communities have been disappearing for months in the Colorado town of Blackwater Falls. The local sheriff is slow to act and the fates of the missing girls largely ignored. The calls for justice become too loud to ignore when the body of a star student and refugee, a Syrian teenager 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. As Inaya gets closer to the truth, Seif finds ways to obstruct the investigation.

Wow. This book digs deep into racial tension, police corruption, and violence. I loved the strong female leads. I love the different cultures represented in this book. This was shocking and twisty. I definitely recommend you picking this one up today!

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and St. Martin's Press/ Minotaur Books for the gifted e-book! ❤️

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I'm a girl who likes to start off with the positive first so here it goes. I loved that the author had such a diverse cast of characters. She brought to life the struggles and challenges immigrants face, especially those fleeing from war torn countries. I also thought it was important the author showed how complex relationships can be between communities of color and the police, especially when the police officers are from those same communities. Okay here comes the negative. I found the writing to be choppy and I lost interest in the mystery. I think I expected the plot to move faster than it did.
Thank you to Netgalley amd St. Martin's Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Looking for a murder mystery that threads in police corruption, politics, religion and the life of refugees – then may I suggest checking out Blackwater Falls, it is the first of a new series featuring Detective Inaya Rahman and set in a small town outside of Denver, Colorado.

This mystery packs a punch that highlights the current political divides in the U.S. as well as the dark agendas driving it all. It is disturbing, it is infuriating and it is one that makes you stop and reflect. What do you believe in and what do you stand for? A complex, well plotted tale indeed!

I listened to (thank you Libro.FM for my ALC) and read (thank you Minotaur Books for my DRC) Blackwater Falls as I didn’t want to stop the story until it was done. I highly recommend you pick it up and learn about the town and the people who inhabit it.

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Blackwater Falls is a brand-new police procedural mystery series about Inaya Rahman, a female Muslim detective in Colorado.

What appealed to you the most in this story?

I was really drawn to how unique this story was, and the variety of cultures represented in it. This was a story about more than a murder, and it takes on a very complex situation involving politics, possible dirty cops, and prejudices. As I read, I felt like I learned more about some of the problems facing Muslims and refugees from other countries.

How was the pace?

This story held a steady pace and there were enough twists and turns to keep me interested for the most part. It took me a bit to start getting into the book due to everything and character being thrown at me during the very beginning of the story, and it got a little confusing with so many side characters as I continued to read. There was a lot of backstory detail (which is normal for the first book in a series) and the inner monologues began to become repetitive.

How was the romance?

I think it detracted from the story and I just didn’t buy into it.

Do you recommend this book?

If you like starting a new series and police procedurals, then check this one out.

Thank you, Minotaur Books, for this gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

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One wouldn't expect to describe a police procedural novel as heartbreakingly beautiful but Blackwater Falls is just that. This first in a series about Detective Inaya Rahman is so much more than a crime drama. Art, science, religion, contemporary American political issues, and family all come together in a promising series. I loved this novel and cannot wait for more by this author.

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Thank you to the publisher, Minotaur and St. Martin's Press, and author, Ausma Zehanat Khan for allowing me to read Blackwater Falls ahead of its publication date.

I was initially drawn to this title from its synopsis. I like to highlight diverse books and authors on my platform and this one really piqued my interest. The story follows the case of a murdered Syrian teenager, Razan.

What I liked about this book was:
-there was a diverse set of characters. The main characters and side characters were from all different backgrounds. I loved this aspect.
-huge cast of badass women who were breaking barriers
-plot that was continuously developing as the story unfolded
-a character driven plot; each character was well rounded

What I did not enjoy was:
-way too much political and social references. I understand the story was huge on the disadvantages of black and brown girls. There was a great deal of references (more than my liking) that almost lead me to not finish the book. What kept me engaged was the story line.

The last 20% of the book is what made it for me. The story is a slow burn...which is fine, just not a personal preference of mine. The last bit of the book picked up...we figured out the murderer and had some closure. I'm not sure if the second book will be a continuation of this one; I'm hoping for a whole other storyline honestly. The ending is not much of a cliff hanger but does leave a bit of a question.

Overall, I enjoyed the book for what it was. I will read the second one in the series when its released. I would recommend it to those who enjoy a slow burn thriller. I would caution to those who do not want to be bombarded with social and political views, that at many times, were on-sided.

I rated the book 3.5 stars, and that was from the last 20% mainly.

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Blackwater Falls is the first book in the Detective Inaya Rahman series by Ausma Zehanat Khan and is a wild and thrilling ride. Inaya emerges as a fascinating heroine who must answer to her family, faith, and the larger community. Blackwater Falls is as surprising as it is evocative. I cannot wait to read more from this author.

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First in a new series!! Detective Inaya Rahman is a Muslim that works for the Community Response Unit of the DPD. She is called to the murder scene of a Muslim girl. The sheriff is against the CRU. Her boss seems to not like her. The community she's a part of doesn't trust her, because she's the police.

This book needs to come with trigger warnings. There is police brutality, anti-islamic feelings, black lives matter, sexual assault, open borders, plus just the whole scene of the murder. It is a good book, but be warned about these triggers.

If you like books that have political issues, current issues plus murder, I think you might enjoy this book. I for one can't wait for the next book in the series.

I was fortunate enough to read a sample of this book earlier in the year from St. Martin's Press. I thought the book would be good than, and now I know I was right.

Book published November 1, 2022

Thanks to Netgalley, and St. Martin's Press for the Kindle Version of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

📚 Happy Reading 🙂📚


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This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I enjoy reading police procedurals with different settings and diverse characters. Blackwater Falls is exactly this sort of book. I read to learn new things and broaden my experience which also happened in this reading. There were a variety of cultural and religious aspects which I have had almost no knowledge. My lack of experience made my reading slow as I was trying to assimilate new ideas.

The setting is a smaller town in Colorado. There are Muslim people from the Middle East, Hispanic Catholics from Mexico, and black refugees from Somalia. There may have been more religions and refugees from other areas. The CEO of a tech firm was from Ukraine and there were some Asian characters. The main character Inaya is a police officer with her Muslim family came from Afghanistan.

In addition to the world-building, there are also a variety of main characters, organizations and cultural communities to know. The personal relationships of Inaya and her team members in the Cultural Response Unit, and their families are explored. As they work the case, they build some connections with some community members.

Throughout there were instances of racial, cultural and religion bias or hate, along with misogyny. Some instances were disturbing. Young women have disappeared, and now one has been murdered. Inaya works with her partner, and tries to help the various families in the community while solving the murder.

There are political and religious harassments, as well as police corruption making it all more difficult. Inaya works hard and with compassion for the victims and families. The case of the missing girls is solved, but it is only the tip of the iceberg on the issues and struggles in this community. Blackwater Falls is the first in a series where there is definitely more to come.

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I’ve read and enjoyed all the books in Ausma Zehanat Khan’s Rachel Getty/Esa Khattak series so I looked forward to this first in a new series. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

A Syrian teenager, Razan Elkader, is found murdered in Blackwater Falls, a suburb of Denver. Lieutenant Waqas Seif brings his team of the Community Response Unit to investigate. That team includes Detective Inaya Rahman. They discover that two Somali girls have gone missing though the local sheriff has been slow to act. Is there a connection among the girls? Is Razan’s murder a hate crime or is it connected to her and her father’s activism?

A lack of clarity on one issue bothered me. Complaints against the sheriff have resulted in the Community Response Unit taking over the investigation, but the sheriff continues to be involved. The sheriff “refused to turn over paperwork, acted as if he hadn’t been removed” and leads a town hall meeting indicating “he didn’t intend to be sidelined.”

How is the CRU’s investigation different from one that would be conducted by regular police detectives? Other than the fact that they seem to act/react very slowly, there seems no difference. More than once, searches are conducted in a way that would not be considered legal. Things that should be researched immediately are not until much later. Except for Mercedes, Razan’s friends are not interviewed until much later? Obvious things like surveillance video are not checked?

There are some events that require explanation. Inaya left an untenable situation in Chicago to become a member of the Denver Police Department’s Community Response Unit. Her family moved with her to Blackwater Falls? Two girls can disappear but there are only rumours about them, and it takes Inaya some time to even find out their identities? Why would a man engaged in criminal activity wear a name tag identifying him in any way? A board member of a company would be concerned about “his bottom line”? We are told that “the Abdi and Diriye families were meeting the detectives,” but then the husbands aren’t there? The Abdi family consists of two sons, but the whereabouts of one son is never discussed?

The character of Inaya is developed since she will be a key player in the series. She is stubborn, “as biddable as a musk ox,” and tenacious, but she is also reckless. She wants members of the minority community to be handled with care and compassion, yet she often acts as a steamroller, jumping to conclusions about other people in the community. Though she does not wear a hijab, she is described as religious. She says things like, “’I’m accountable to my Creator’” and “She put her parents’ and sisters’ needs before her own, and it was a privilege to do so.” Yet she is never shown in prayer until two-thirds of the way through the book? What is emphasized is her difficult position, working within a system known for its systemic racism: “She was a traitor twice over, too brown for the badge, too blue for her co-religionists.”

The investigations into the murder and missing persons’ cases are overshadowed by the author’s political views. My views align with hers, but her approach is so heavy-handed that the narrative gets lost. The number of stereotypes bothered me: corrupt and prejudiced law enforcement, xenophobic Christian evangelists, and a MAGA-supporting, white supremacist, violent motorcycle gang. Whites and Christians tend to be bad; brown/ black-skinned people and Muslims tend to be good. It’s great that the perspective of minorities is provided, but I’d have liked more nuance in character portrayals.

Why is it necessary to include a romance element? The sexual tension between Inaya and Seif feels forced and awkward and just becomes tedious. It’s just another element to distract from the cases, and there is so much already in the book: characters’ backstories, police brutality and corruption, murder and missing persons’ investigations, Inaya’s mother’s attempts to find a husband for her eldest daughter, misogyny, Islamophobia, xenophobia, white supremacy, unionization attempts at a meat-packing plant, weapons manufacturing, and sexual assault. These issues are current and important, but a focused approach on a few would be better than overwhelming the reader.

I wanted to like this book more. Some judicious revision would go a long way to improving its focus. A novel from the perspective of a Muslim woman is so welcome but is it necessary to burden her story with so many of society’s ills?

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This book will grab you and keep you reading till the very last word is read. It moves along at a pace which is perfect for the story. The characters are amazing and you want to know them better and be there for them no matter what. This book is a must read that will keep you reading. There is no doubt about it.

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The staging of the body of Razan, a murdered teen- crucifixed on the door of a mosque- opens a can of worms in Blackwater Falls, Colorado. Detective Inaya Rahman, a member of the Community Response Unit, finds the hatred underlying a placid exterior unsettling, especially as the case widens. She's also dealing with her parents, who would like to see her married, and her attraction to her boss, Qas Self. The two of them provide their perspectives as the case winds through the community and into the corporate world. There was more to Razan than anyone knew, as well as to some of the others Inaya encounters (no spoilers). This has a strong plot, interesting insight into the immigrant community, and most of the characters that transcend stereotypes. The twists will keep you guessing but there are also holes (one key character would never have been carrying a badge, for example, or be allowed to live the way he does under the circumstances). Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. It's a good start to a new series and I'm looking forward to more.

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Blackwater Falls is the first book in the Detective Inaya Rahman series. I think it’ll hold tremendous appeal to readers looking for culturally diverse, complex police procedurals.

While I did enjoy this one, I had some issues with the story’s execution.

We have a large cast of characters and a lot of detail. Much of the detail is the various characters’ backstories, as well as repetitive inner monologues regarding religion and a sort of forbidden instalove thing. The relationship doesn’t actually go anywhere, but we spend a whole lot of time in the two characters’ heads obsessing about it. All this dramatically slowed the pace, muddling the story quite a bit at times.

The cultural theme fascinated me, but I also felt the author’s heavy hand throughout. The information became a little too much in your face, even though I agreed and empathized with the issues. The dialogue and such often felt forced to make a point, rather than the natural flow of conversation.

You need to pay attention because the plot is like an intricate jigsaw puzzle. In the end, the pieces come together in a perfect fit.

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I liked the audio narrator on this one.

The story put a spotlight on the treatment that people of color receive when they are victims of crimes and even when they are high ranking officials. It was written in such a way that it was productive and impactful yet it didn’t have heavy political or accusatory tones. It’s was more like…here is a good, interesting story and also…society you need to do better. I appreciated that. There are so many books that are overly political and it can sometimes take away from the overall story.

So I think this was well done and stayed true to the point of the story while still giving insight into other cultures that people may not be as familiar with and the obstacles they overcome just to exist in the US.

It was a solid read and definitely worth checking out.

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Blackwater Falls marks the start of a new series that's off to a strong start. Readers who are interested in learning about other cultures, about the impacts of being a refugee and a person who stands out from others will be fascinated by the backdrop for this police procedural. With several crimes and several stories intertwined, the story takes a bit too long to play out. However, those who stick with it will be rewarded. I eagerly await the next book in this series.

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I went into reading Blackwater Falls thinking that it was going to be more of a thriller/suspense/mystery with a police procedural kind of vibe, and, while it is, there's also a lot of details about religion and societal issues. It's also a slow burn. Ultimately, while the character development is well done, the packing was just a little too slow for my liking, causing it to fall little flat for me.

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Detective Inaya is investigating a gruesome death of a young teen displayed very religiously. The investigation leads to many missing teens.

The religious and refugee element was very good. I loved the differences in religion and ethnicities but beyond that, this book never grabbed me.

Investigator books can be difficult to write in my opinion. The amount of information you give, the personalities of the investigators and the crime all have to be implemented so well to maintain full interest. This book just didn’t have a great flow. There were multiple characters so it was hard to keep people straight, and it was much longer than it needed to be. The crimes were interesting enough but when the religious aspect is thrown in, it loses that spark for me. It really was difficult to read the intense bullying (definitely not a strong enough word) that occurred. Instead of ingratiating me to the victims, it made me pull back and lose interest.

Thank you to Minotaur Books for the gifted copy!

The book releases November 1, 2022.

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