A Sikh girl on the run. A Muslim ex-con who has to find her. A whole heap of trouble. Southall, West London. After being released from prison, Zaq Khan is lucky to land a dead-end job at a builders’ yard. All he wants to do is keep his head down and put the past behind him. But when he’s forced to search for his boss’s runaway daughter it quickly becomes apparent things aren’t all to do with family arguments and arranged marriages as he finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception, murder and revenge. With time running out and pressure mounting, can he find the missing girl before it’s too late? And if he does, can he keep her – and himself – alive long enough to deal with the people who want them both dead?
Western Fringes introduces us to Zaq Khan, Zaq has found himself a job at a local builders yard after his release from jail. When the boss summons him to find his missing daughter Rita or go back to jail, he finds he has no option and with very little information and only a few names to go on the hunt for the mysterious runaway daughter begins. It soon becomes apparent though that Zaq hasn’t been told the truth and all is not as it seems which leads to a very twisted and dangerous search and time is of the essence.
Oh boy, oh boy, what a roller coaster of a read this was. Talk about gripping, I’m surprised the pages didn’t go on fire at the speed I was turning them. I have to say I wasn’t expecting what I got from Western Fringes at all, that’s a good thing I may add.
Zaq isn’t a detective, he’s just a normal lad that’s been in trouble and is trying to keep his head down. With very little to go on he teams up with his best mate Jags, this pair were a delight to read about. They’ve been friends for a long time and there’s quite a few comedy moments between them which brought a welcome relief from the action at times. Both hugely likeable characters that were very realistic I couldn’t help finding a little place in my heart for them and really hoping all would end well.
Some characters in the book really made my hair stand on end though, especially Rita’s brothers. A couple that you just love to hate, right from the get go I knew they were trouble and there was more to them than met the eye.
I’m not going to go over the plot here, there is so much going on in this book that I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I will however say that this really is an action packed story, there was no way I could predict what was going to happen which was brilliant as there were lots of surprises along the way. I would definitely say that some parts of the book are not for the faint hearted, no, no, no, there is one particular scene that still stands out to me and one I will probably never forget, put it this way my eyes were watering and that’s all I’m saying.
Western Fringes won the CWA Debut Dagger Award and to be honest I’m not surprised, Amer Anwar has a serious talent for telling a story. Filled with action, fast paced and eye popping moments Western Fringes is a blooming brilliant read. With realistic characters, cultural backgrounds and some added Punjabi to make it feel even more authentic, this is a book I will be highly recommending.
Amer Anwar grew up in West London. After leaving college he had a variety of jobs, including; warehouse assistant, comic book lettering artist, a driver for emergency doctors and chalet rep in the French Alps. He eventually landed a job as a creative artworker/graphic designer and spent a decade and a half producing artwork, mainly for the home entertainment industry. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London and is a winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. Western Fringes is his first novel.
Many thanks go to the author for the copy in exchange for an honest review.