Plano Reads: Blackwater Falls
4 mins read

Plano Reads: Blackwater Falls

Mystery Book Club’s pick for March is Blackwater Falls by Ausma Zehanat Khan. Please join us for our discussion on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at Davis Library or through Zoom. If you would like to attend the meeting virtually, please register here

Available in Print | eBook | eAudio 

From critically acclaimed author Ausma Zehanat Khan, Blackwater Falls is the first in a timely and powerful crime series, introducing Detective Inaya Rahman. 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. 

-Provided by publisher 

Xenophobia and greed foment violence and corruption in a small mountain town. Racial tension runs high in Blackwater Falls, Colorado, thanks to the evangelical, anti-immigrant Resurrection Church and its “outreach branch” of motorcycle-riding vigilantes dubbed the Disciples. Members of minority groups have filed multiple complaints against Resurrection crony Sheriff Addison Grant and his like-minded deputies, so when the corpse of 16-year-old Syrian refugee Razan Elkader is found stripped of her hijab and nailed to the door of her local mosque in a “gruesome emulation of the Crucifixion,” the Denver Police Department’s Community Response Unit takes over the investigation. Led by Lt. Waqas Seif, the CRU’s mandate is to provide accountability and transparency to overpoliced communities. Seif taps Det. Inaya Rahman to run point; though she, her parents, and her younger sisters only moved to the area six months ago, the Rahmans worship at the Blackwater mosque, and Inaya has prior experience working homicide. With help from Det. Catalina Hernandez and civil rights attorney Areesha Adams, Inaya probes Razan’s murder while searching for two missing Somali girls whom Grant previously dismissed as runaways. Seif pushes back on efforts to implicate Grant, prompting Inaya to question his allegiance. Khan’s third-person narrative unfolds largely from Inaya’s perspective, detailing her struggles to reconcile her faith with the realities of her law enforcement career. Occasional chapters from Seif’s POV add context and heighten tension. The mystery’s denouement is convoluted, and the supporting cast is studded with stereotypes, blunting the tale’s impact, but Inaya is a complex, compassionate protagonist perfectly poised to helm a new series challenging the outmoded conventions of police procedurals. A timely, nuanced take on a staid formula. 

-Copyright Kirkus Reviews 

Ausma Zehanat Khan holds a Ph.D. in international human rights law with a specialization in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. She is the author of the award-winning Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty mystery series, which begins with The Unquiet Dead, as well as the critically acclaimed Khorasan Archives fantasy series. Her crime series featuring Detective Inaya Rahman begins with Blackwater Falls. She is also a contributor to the anthologies Private Investigations, Sword Stone Table, and The Perfect Crime, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Muslim Girl magazine. A British-born Canadian and former adjunct law professor, Khan now lives in Colorado with her husband. 

-Learn more about the author on her website 

  • A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan (Print
  • Bone Canyon by Lee Goldberg (Print
  • Quicksand by Carolyn Baugh (Print)  
  • 21 Immortals by Noor Rozlan Mohd (Print
  • Stolen Things by Rachael Herron (Print
Print Friendly, PDF & Email