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by Lesley Horton
Orion, February 2003
312 pages
9.99 GBP
ISBN: 075284671X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The body of brutally battered health visitor Rukhsana Mahmood is found on the grounds of a nursing home, where she had gone to visit her aunt. DI John Handford is placed in charge of the investigation, but he has to be especially careful. The year before he had determined that a young Indian girl had been murdered by her brother but the Asian community insisted that he had not searched outside the group assiduously enough.

He is given DS Khalid Ali as his second-in-command. Ali, as a Pakistani and a police officer, faces hostility both from his community and from the police among whom he works. John and Khalid must find a way to work together and solve this barbarous crime.

When Ali and Handford go to the Mahmood house to tell her husband, Amajit, that she has been murdered, they learn that she had been a Sikh and he was a Muslim. They married for love and have been isolated from both their families every since. The police have to break the news to both families, since neither will speak to Amajit.

In another part of the city, Karen Penistone hears about the murder of her health visitor, which depresses her severely. Karen is a young single mother with a baby born with 2 club feet. Rukhsana had helped Karen get the baby an operation to partially correct his deformity and was helping her to return to school so she could have a profession and not have to live on handouts from the Council, and in a place where her brother could come and batter her every time he had too much to drink.

Karen had been to Rukhsana's home once, for the celebration of Eid, and when she heard what happened, she walked over to her house to see if she could help Amajit, and from this point on, things get more complicated.

This is an excellent first novel. The puzzle wasn't hard to solve. The murder was fairly easy to spot, but the characterization and the overlying theme of intolerance were both excellent. Handford and Ali must learn to work together and to respect each other. Ali must learn to cope with racism within the force and his attitude to Pakistanis who don't conform to his ideals. Karen must learn how to cope alone. I'd like to see more of John and Gill Handford and Khalid and Amina and this unnamed Yorkshire community.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, March 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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