Member Reviews

Blackwater Falls highlights injustices brought about racist individuals and civil servants in a town where immigrants are seeking refuge. A series of unreported murders of young immigrant girls is uncovered by Detective Inaya Rahman. Inaya is a Muslim detective who has discarded her Hijab to further her career in the precinct, defying her religious and family beliefs.

This detective thriller was a bit slow moving, especially the beginning. While it touches on socially sensitive topics that are plaguing current new cycles, I often reach for a book to escape reality not live in it. Also I found the men in this novel vile from their language, empathetic nature and respect for women difficult to swallow.

I'm sure this novel will find its home with readers. Unfortunately, it is not me.

Thank you Minatour Books for the complimentary copy.

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Not bad for the first in a series - I will try more of this when they come

Thanks to Netgalley for the free copy in exchange for an honest review

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This is the first in a series following Inaya Rahman, a muslim detective, she's called to the scene of the murder of a young muslim girl who had been found hung from the door of a mosque, similar to who Jesus was hung on a cross. Inaya along with two members of her team investigate, and very quickly a number of suspects come to light, including a group of bikers from a club called the Disciples, who have a close connection with a church that is very pro white. There is a lot of racial tension in the story, almost at every turn Inaya has to deal with someone questioning her ability to do her job. Add to that the attraction between her and her boss, a mother who is anxious for her to get married, sisters who are struggling with their own harassment at school and Inaya has a lot on her plate. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. Thanks to #Netgalley and #Minotaur books for the ARC.

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I loved the representation of this lead female detective. Inaya Rahman is a detective that is hired to solve the murder of a Syrain Refugee, and she and Detective Waqas Seif make connections to other unsolved teenage murders. There are obstacles in the way for these two detectives and I liked the underlying mystery as well. Thank you to Netgalley and Minotaur books for the opportunity to read this book! It is out Nov 1st 2022.

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With Blackwater Falls I have be introduced to a new author and her new police procedural series. Finding out that she has another series was a nice surprise. I have some catching up to do. I'm holding a spot on my TBR list for more in this series.
Inaya Rahman has come to Denver from Chicago and is a detective with the Community Response Unit. Not one of the most welcomed part of the police force. Up until this case she has been assigned to community outreach and she is glad to be out in the field again. At the same time she has to deal with a major misstep in her previous posting. Arriving at the scene has her anxious and on guard. As well she should be. The police force of Blackwater Falls wants her to go away and the tension is strong starting with the first police officer she encounters. They not only have no use for her as a woman but she is not white, not American by their definition and she is Muslim. The fact that the case is that of a murdered young woman, Razan Elkader, a Syrian immigrant and the local police probably won't give it their best effort if their past actions are anything to go by. After all, it's the reason Inaya has been added to the case. Razan's body has been placed on the door of a local Mosque in the position of crucifixion.
As Inaya starts investigating she turns to two female colleagues - Det. Catalina Hernandez and attorney Areesha Adams - for help. There may be a major cover up of crimes involving their boss. When she starts trying to connect this murder with the disappearances and murders of other young immigrant girls, she puts herself in danger.
The mystery was well constructed and the characters were well developed. I came away wanting to know more about Inaya, her family and her background.
My thanks to the publisher Minotaur and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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What a great start to a new detective/mystery series! The setting is the Denver, Colorado area, specifically a town named Blackwater Falls. There is a large immigrant/refugee population there, specifically a lot of Muslim newcomers, from Somalia and elsewhere, and that has exacerbated racial and religious tensions in the area, which is dominated by an evangelical Christian megachurch. Enter a squad from the Denver Police Department called the Community Response Unit. They have been instructed to take over an investigation from the local Blackwater Falls sheriff, who has had a lot of community complaints. To add to the tension, we have a female Muslim police officer with this CRU. So on top of all the other issues creating tension, we add misogyny.

I loved the characters of Inaya Rahman, the Muslim police detective, and her boss, Seif, who has downplayed/hidden his Middle Eastern heritage. They make quite an interesting pair. I really enjoyed several of the side characters as well, such as Cat (Caterina) Hernandez, Inaya’s partner, and Areesha Adams, a black community activist lawyer.

The story is heartbreaking is so many ways. A young Muslim Syrian refugee has been murdered and has been found “posed” in a very unusual way. There were a lot of twists and turns that kept both me and my husband guessing, as we listened to the audiobook on a long car ride. (I also had a copy of the ebook and consulted it in the evenings to make sure I hadn’t missed anything while we were listening - due to traffic, distractions, etc. - which also helped me with the spelling of a lot of the names involved. Grant and Brandt, for instance, sounds a lot alike!) The author included a lot of information on the cultural and religious practices of Muslims, as practiced by families from Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan or Pakistan, and we enjoyed the occasional use of an Arabic word or phrase, feeling that it added to the authenticity of the story. And the food descriptions made our mouths water!

Something that never got resolved in our minds involved Inaya’s family: we were confused as to why they lived in the area and were seemingly immersed in the community, as the story kept emphasizing that Inaya was new to the area. Did they follow her from Chicago to Denver? Maybe we missed something! The other thing that bothered us was the feeling that a recent immigrant like Razan would never have been granted a fellowship at such a company dealing with such security-sensitive programs. One of our sons had a similar internship while in college and he had to jump through a lot of security hoops just to be able to set foot in the place, so that whole setup seemed very unlikely to us.

While we still had these questions at the end of the book, overall it was a really good story and I am looking forward to more books in this series.

Warnings: The book espouses a particular point of view (politically speaking), so this may annoy some readers, as well as parts that can be construed as anti-evangelicalism. In addition, there is racism, misogyny, anti-immigrant sentiment/xenophobia, police brutality, etc.

The audiobook was narrated beautifully by Fareeda Pasha.

Thank you to Recorded Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of this audiobook and to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance reader copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

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Blackwater Falls revolves around Detective Inaya Rahman, who is part of the Community Response Unit for the police. The Community Response Unit to Blackwater Falls is called after unrest & slow, unsuccessful police work to the multiple missing girls from immigrant communities. Tragedy strikes even further when the body of star student & refugee--the Syrian teenager Razan Elkader is found distinctly positioned in a mosque. What follows this case next is the complicated unraveling of a dark mystery hidden in the depths of this town on a wavering foundation of cultural, radical & religious tension.

This book was a gut punch. It deals with extremely difficult topics in a matter that is so realistic & reminiscent of real life. It actually draws facts from real life & utilizes them throughout the story.
This is such a well-written, excellently crafted mystery book & start to a new series that feels agonizingly raw. It brings forth problems from today’s society & harshly shines a light on them. This book tackles so many difficulties along with the intersectionality of marginalized groups & the additional struggles they face. I appreciated the fact that this novel adds so much needed representation into this genre & I was thankful the author wrote the perspective of a Muslim detective & the harrowing struggles she faces while trying to do her job & support her own community.

I really liked the author’s intelligent writing style & the fact that the solving of the case seemed to follow a trajectory similar to how one would actually solve a case with the avenues they must take to eliminate & pin down the missing links. There were so many storylines happening simultaneously that it’s impressive it was all fit into one book. I think this serves as an excellent opener to a promising new mystery series that establishes a very unique foundation with characters that I’m curious to return to.

Massive thanks to NetGalley & Minotaur Books for the arc of this book, which I voluntarily read & reviewed. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Trigger warnings: This book mentions &/or contains racism, hate crimes, xenophobia, violence, murder, sexism, police brutality, Islamophobia, misogyny, panic attack, harassment, child abuse & death of child.

I will post to my social media release week & add links once I do!

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Blackwater Falls is a new book from Ausma Zehanat Khan.

"A teenage girl is found killed and displayed in a mosque. in the town of Blackwater Falls, CO. The victim, Razan Elkader was a star student and refugee. Detectective Inaya Rahman is recruited to help solve her murder. She must fight local police indifference and prejudice to find her killer."

I expected this book to be crime fiction but the narrative seems to be more about social issues than solving a crime. There are many stereotypes - the corrupt, prejudiced law enforcement - the criminal Christian evangelicals - the school jocks who are bullies. It was a bit much and detracted from the story. Crime fiction should include following the steps to solve the crime instead of a surprise reveal.

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Phew. This book was tough, but good. There are so many content warnings for this one, racism, islamphobia, police brutality, white supremacy, assault, hate crimes, you name it, it's in here. But wow, did the author handle them all so well and she kept you wanting to keep reading. I also liked the little bit of romantic tension between the two leads, the small almost imperceptible "you touch her, you die" undertones were perfect. Overall, I'll definitely be picking up the rest of the books in the series as they release.

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**3.5 stars**

We find ourselves in Blackwater Falls with Inaya Rahman im who is a detective in the Community Response Unit. The town is full of prejudice on people who are different than them.

The beginning was very engaging with the discovery of a young Syrian refugee is discovered. Seeing how Inaya discovers it and seeing her POV and how she is being viewed from the locals and her own people.
We follow Inaya and other detectives trying to make a case and catch the killer. While all of that is happening we also see how Inaya struggles with how her own people and her mom view her.
While I enjoyed seeing a well rounded character, I felt it got a bit too heavy in the politics. While it was sad to see how Inaya was targeted-it may be eye opening to those that aren’t discriminated because of their color because it does happen more often than we like to think.
The audiobook is narrated by Fareeda Pasha and she did a wonderful job portraying all of the characters with a wide arrange of tones and inflections.
I would recommend this book to those that enjoy reading POC, hate crimes, politics, and police procedure.

Special thanks to St. Martin Press, RB Media, and Netgalley for the ALC.

Book releases Oct. 31.

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When you open Blackwater Falls, you immediately fall into a story of racial tensions, faith, prejudice, and fear, and author Ausma Zehanat Khan is a master of pulling readers into an unfamiliar world and making them feel a part of it. This is the sort of book many of us need to read in order to understand what immigrants and minorities have to endure every day, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if some readers find it an uncomfortable experience.

Detective Inaya Rahman is an interesting character. Daughter of Afghan-Pakistani parents and sibling to two younger sisters, Inaya has only recently stopped wearing the hijab. Formerly of the Chicago Police Department, she fled an untenable situation to become a member of Denver, Colorado's Community Response Unit (CRU). Described by another character as being "as biddable as a musk ox," her stubbornness and tenacity make her a good investigator, but she needs to learn when to dig in her heels and when to make a strategic retreat.

As good and compelling a read as Blackwater Falls is, I felt that it suffers a bit from Too Much Syndrome (TMS). In this case, much of the TMS is due to setting up her characters and the background, but let me give you an incomplete rundown of the plot elements. You'll find various immigrant communities (Somalis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese) and their differences described, Inaya's Chicago backstory, her boss Waqas Seif's backstory, corrupt police officers, a spy in the CRU, Seif's real agenda, goings-on at a food processing plant, goings-on at an aerospace plant, the plight of refugees, hate crimes, a murder investigation, a missing persons case, an evangelical church complete with hate-filled sermons and its own biker gang enforcers, Inaya's mother trying to marry her off, Inaya being big sister, and romantic sparks between Inaya and Seif. As I said, this is an incomplete list. Whew! Sometimes, there was so much going on that my head spun.

But I value Khan's storytelling ability. She's proven to me that she's one of the best at creating complex investigations to solve in worlds that I'm unfamiliar with-- and becoming familiar with those worlds and their people is every bit as important to me as the crimes she asks me to solve.

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Murder, corruption, harassment, racial bias, anti-immigrant politics. Blackwater Falls has it all. It also has people willing to risk everything to fight against greed and evil. This is a very fast paced, complex story with twists and turns aplenty. The main characters are complicated, wounded, but very appealing. Hopefully this is the start of a can't-miss-a-single-book series!

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With Blackwater Falls, Ausma Zehanat Khan starts a new mystery series featuring Detective Inaya Rahman of Denver’s Community Response Unit (CRU). Khan makes good use of her immigration law and human rights background as she portrays a multicultural team of officers investigating a murder twenty miles south of Denver. A largely affluent gated community, Blackwater Falls is dominated by the Resurrection Church with its own tattooed motorcycle club known as the Disciples; by Apex Dynamics, a tech company and subcontractor of Lockheed; and by Natural Foods, a large meat processing plant employing most of the Muslim refugees living on the poorer outskirts of town and replacing the undocumented Hispanic laborers previously driven out by ICE.

Razan Alkader, a Syrian refugee teen who had earned a scholarship to the town’s private high school and an internship at Apex Dynamics, has been found dead, seemingly crucified on the mosque’s main door. Two Somali girls had earlier gone missing, and the local sheriff, Addison Grant, continues to downplay their disappearance, claiming they were runaways escaping repressive parents.

As Lieutenant Seif, Inaya Rahman, Catalina “Cat” Hernandez, and Jaime Webb attempt to solve the murder and disappearance cases, Rahman notices that Seif, the team’s boss, repeatedly defers to Sheriff Grant, who resents the outside investigators and cozies up to the Resurrection Church and the local industries, who supply his funding. Could one of their own be in cahoots with Grant and attempting to sideline the investigation?
With aid from a feisty black activist attorney, Areesha Adams, and interference from the burly, motorcycle-riding Disciples, who terrorize both refugees and the Denver CRU unit, Detective Rahman and partners delve into the lives of an assortment of locals--victims and suspects, friends and bullies--and into the town's most revered and powerful institutions--Resurrection Church, Natural Foods, Apex Dynamics, and the Sheriff’s office.

Ausma Zehanet Khan grabbed my attention and held it throughout by offering up a suspenseful plot grounded in political and human rights issues and in the ignorance and hatred too often manifested in society. As author of previous series, Khan also knows the importance of gradually introducing her characters’ backgrounds, and Inaya Rahman proves an interesting, conflicted female lead.

Prepare for false assumptions and changing investigative directions as Detective Rahman and other members of Denver’s CRU confront the Blackwater Falls establishment and search for answers in their effort to serve the town’s refugee community. Little is as it seems.

Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books/St. Martin's Press for an advance reader copy. I will be watching for the next installment featuring Inaya Rahman. Politically conservative readers are much less likely to do the same.

I have shared this review on Goodreads and will share on Barnes and Noble after the release date.

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DNFed at 20%. There was something about the writing style that irked me, to the point of actually distracting me from the plot at hand. Parts of it seemed unrealistic and more focused on exposition than actually showing me that characters were bad people.

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Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an early edition of “Blackwater Falls” by Ausma Zehanat Khan. This book is depicted as a “thriller,” on the Netgalley page; however it is more like your typical murder mystery and as depicted in its description the beginning of a crime series.

This is the story of a special unit put together to investigate a murder in a Colorado town that accommodates many refugees. The author did a good job of character development, especially for the special force, which consists of 3 main characters, Waqas Seif, the leader, Inaya Rahman, and Catalina Hernandez.
The plot is that a teenage refugee girl is murdered and displayed on the Mosque’s door, with the local police are not giving the case the attention it deserves. In comes Seif’s team, which quickly upsets the local sheriff. The murder mystery is your typical with twists and turns and finally a guilty party that is unexpected and for unexpected reasons.

There are the beginnings of a lot more back stories in this book, which is consistent with this being the first in a series. The book touches on the political discord of living near to the Mexican border and being part of a community that welcomes refugees. The local business exploits the refugees for its gains. I think the author could have told the story more succinctly, but as the start of the series, maybe she needed to leave the numerous bread crumbs to give rise to future stories.
The book was mediocre for me, but I will give the next book in the series a chance when it comes out.

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Blackwater Falls is an astounding read. That will have you seeing red with each flip of the page. Ausma Zahanat Khan brings up issues that our country is facing that need to be discussed. Racial tensions, how immigrant communities are treated, police corruption, and where this can all lead. A huge firestorm of hate, in this one small Colorado town. When a young Syrian girl is found murdered at the entrance of their town's mosque. The sheriff in town despises outsiders and makes it vocally known. He allows his deputies to inflict force and fear onto anyone who is not white. This is when Detective Inaya Rahman and the rest of her team are called in to take over the case, to make sure that it is handled correctly and to see exactly what the sheriff is up to.

Ausma Zehanat Khan writes her characters so intricately and with such detail it is easy to fall for them. A strong front of women leads showing who they are, and they are not about to back down from their culture or heritage. Inaya is a Muslim who has had her own run in with anti-Muslim racism and hate. She knows what can occur when the wrong person spots you. Catalina Hernandez is another brilliant, strong Mexican who is determined to find out what happened to Razan and why. Will they be able to cross into their community of piers when they themselves are police?

I loved everything about this book. The twists and turn and the number of suspects will give you pause. It is extremely well written and will take hold and not let up until the very end. I cannot wait for the second book to come out. Thank you to Ausma Zehanat Khan, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read this fantastic book. I will be recommending it to everyone!

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This is the first book in the Detective Inaya Rahman series, and it is a good one. This new detective has moved to Blackwater Falls after a traumatic experience at a police department in a large city. The book deals with a lot of issues facing Muslims - hate crimes, refugee issues, and religious issues/biases.

A girl is murdered and displayed on the door of a mosque. Detective Rahman of the Community Response Team is sent to the scene and immediately faces obstacles thrown up by the local Sheriff and his team. The Community Response Team will be the lead on this case, but the Sheriff tries to assert his presence and power.

There's a lot going on in this story than just one murdered girl and it is a very complex situation involving politics, maybe dirty cops, and prejudices. I feel I learned more about some of the problems facing Muslims and refugees from other countries. The characters in the book are well developed and I liked Detective Rahman as well as the Muslim attorney. I did find the scenes in the meat packing plant kind of nauseating, but to be expected from meat packing.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books through Netgalley for an advance copy. This book will be published on November 8, 2022.

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Ausma Zehanat Khan introduces a new series! New series are a favorite read of mine and I really enjoyed her previous work.
This is the story of police detective Inaya Rahman and takes place in Colorado. The author again follows the concept of community policing units and Inaya has been assigned to one. There is a murder of a young Muslim girl that the unit is assigned to. The plot of this book was so interesting and detailed. The characters were compelling as well. I particularly enjoyed Inaya and her family. I also enjoyed the romantic tension between Inaya and her boss Lt Seif. The prose and dialogue was very well written. Lots of excitement following Inaya, she is definitely a singular and brave woman.

The book deals with a lot of current social issues- police brutality and corruption, religious bigotry, immigrant difficulties and women's oppression/abuse. At times the book was a bit hard to read (violence trigger). At times it felt like the weight of all the issues felt overwhelming to someone who is worried about the direction that the country is moving.

Overall I did really enjoy this book and will definitely continue the series. I do prefer the Canadian based series with Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak.
Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books for an ARC for this book!

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3 immigrant stars

This book is set in Blackwater Falls (a fictional town) near Denver and is the beginning of a new series with Inaya Rahman, a Muslim detective with the Community Response Team. She’s sent to Blackwater Falls to investigate the murder of a Muslim girl. Rounding out the characters -- Inaya has a Hispanic partner, Catalina, and her boss is Waqas Saif. The team soon hears rumors of other missing girls.

The political environment is thoroughly explored with immigrant issues, church intervention, a potentially dirty sheriff, and questionable work practices at the nearby meat packing plant. The evangelical pastor in town seems to be behind some of the malice directed at the immigrants in town and suspicion is focused on them and the biker club that serves as the muscle for the sheriff and pastor.

The book dragged in a few places for me, and I’m not bought into the romance angle. I liked the diversity of the characters but would have preferred more character development and explanations.

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Blackwater Falls by Ausma Zehanat Khan

If you enjoy stories that are strong on politics and social justice issues, this might be a story for you. Lots and lots of bad things going on and you will quickly know this book's bad guys and good guys. Detective Inaya Rahman and Lieutenant Waqas Seif of the Denver Police have a murder to solve and they knock heads on how to solve it. This story is trigger warning heavy and part of it takes place in a meat packing plant, with all the body parts and fluids that involves. This is the first book in the Detective Inaya Rahman series so there will be more chances to watch her solve crimes in the future.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for this ARC.

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