cover image A Deadly Divide

A Deadly Divide

Ausma Zehanat Khan. Minotaur, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-29828-7

Issues of religion, culture, and racism take center stage in Khan’s outstanding fifth novel featuring Insp. Esa Khattak, the Toronto-based head of Canada’s Community Policing Section (after 2018’s A Dangerous Crossing). Esa and his partner, Sgt. Rachel Getty, travel to the small Quebec town of Saint-Isidore-du-Lac, where eight people have been shot dead in a mosque in an apparent hate crime. The local police, led by racist Insp. Christian Lemaire of the Sûreté du Quebec, quickly arrest Amadou Duchon, a young Muslim man who was at the scene helping the wounded. The Quebec police also conduct a superficial interview with priest Étienne Roy, who was holding the murder weapon, before releasing him. The priest denies having fired it. In the course of their investigation, Esa and Rachel find a town divided by cultural differences, egged on by a right-wing radio host, and panicked by immigrants and the small Muslim community whose religion is compromised by Quebec’s controversial Codes of Conduct, which favor Catholics. Khan perceptively explores how fear can quickly erupt into violence. Agent: Danielle Burby, Hannigan Salky Getzler. (Feb.)