cover image Blackwater Falls

Blackwater Falls

Ausma Zehanat Khan. Minotaur, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-82238-3

At the start of this stunning series launch from Khan (the Esa Khattak series), the corpse of high school student and Syrian refugee Razan Elkader is found nailed to the door of a mosque in Blackwater Falls, Colo. Lt. Waqas Seif of the Community Response Unit, a small team assigned to cases involving vulnerable and minority groups, selects detective Inaya Rahman for the investigation, her first hands-on case since moving to Blackwater six months earlier. Rahman discovers that two Somali girls who were friends of Razan’s disappeared months before, but were dismissed as runaways by Blackwater’s powerful sheriff, who’s known to mistreat minorities. Though the girls’ bodies haven’t been found, Rahman fears they too may be dead. Activist-attorney Areesha Adams and criminal psychologist Catalina Hernandez offer Rahman both support and assistance as the investigation leads to the aerospace company at which Razan had interned, the meatpacking plant that employs the three girls’ fathers, and an anti-Muslim evangelical church. When Seif unexpectedly starts to oppose Rahman’s efforts, she wonders whether he has an agenda other than solving the crime. Khan brilliantly depicts the complexities of her characters and the tensions of a multicultural American community struggling with bias, fear, and corruption. At once suspenseful, moving, and thought-provoking, this is not to be missed. Agent: Danielle Burby, Nelson Literary. (Nov.)