Blackwater Falls

Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Inaya Rahman, Bk. 1). Nov. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9781250822383. $27.99. M
This new series from Khan (A Deadly Divide) features Inaya Rahman, a member of Denver’s Community Response Unit, a reform effort in response to police misconduct. Rahman is called in to a murder investigation in Blackwater Falls, at her own mosque, where the body of Razan Elkader, a teenage Syrian refugee, is found nailed to the door in the manner of a crucifixion. Rahman contends with traumatic memories of anti-Islam bigotry from her previous job, murky small-town politics that include a crooked local sheriff, a biker gang of white supremacists, and a xenophobic megachurch. The approach of exploring post-reform policing feels fresh, but the members of the Community Response Unit fall into traditional habits of fictionalized hero cops, making the idea feel a bit like a missed opportunity. The complexities Rahman grapples with—balancing her identity as a Muslim woman alongside her role as a police officer—give the book added texture; that depth may carry readers when some of the plot development and character relationships feel clunky.
VERDICT Readers who enjoy a meatier mystery that grapples with contemporary themes, along the lines of a James Lee Burke thriller, will find much to admire.
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