Books·Canadian

A Deadly Divide

A Deadly Divide is a novel by Ausma Zehanat Khan.

Ausma Zehanat Khan

In the aftermath of a mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec, the local police apprehend Amadou Duchon — a young Muslim man at the scene helping the wounded — but release Etienne Roy, the local priest who was found with a weapon in his hands.

The shooting looks like a hate crime, but detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty sense there is more to the story. Sent to liaise with a community in the grip of fear, they find themselves in fraught new territory, fueled by the panic and suspicion exploited by a right-wing radio host.

As Rachel and Esa grapple to stop tensions shutting the case down entirely, all the time, someone is pointing Esa in another direction, a shadowy presence who anticipates his every move.

A Deadly Divide is a piercingly observed, gripping thriller that reveals the fractures that try to tear us all apart: from the once-tight partnership between detectives Esa and Rachel, to the truth about a deeply divided nation. (From Minotaur)

From the book

Blood saturated the walls, the stink of it creeping into his nostrils. By any measure, the scene was sickening. It was more devastation at a single crime scene than Esa Khattak had ever witnessed. From the green tinge to Rachel's skin, he could see it was the same for her. Their eyes met across the hall, sharing the moment of horror. They'd been called at once and had arrived as quickly as possible after the shooting, a mere matter of hours.

Rachel was at the door canvasing the mosque's parking lot. Khattak had been permitted access to the narrow cordon set up by crime scene technicians in the midst of the dead. He wore a protective forensic suit, Superintendent Martine Killiam at his side. He photographed the scene methodically, finding it easier to deal with the sight of bodies through the distancing mechanism of his lens. He made the count to himself. Two bodies in the corner had fallen back against the small shelf of books. Two more were slumped sideways in the main prayer space, where the green and white carpeting was soaked through. Another body was pitched against the mihrab, its white robe spattered with starbursts of blood. The delicately tiled niche had been damaged by a spray of bullets, its shards scattered over the carpet. A tiny turquoise flower lay inches from Khattak's feet.

He turned in the opposite direction, to the scene he'd put off photographing to the end. Two bodies close enough to touch and farthest from the door, one huddled inside the protective embrace of the other. A father and his small son. The assailant had targeted both.

A small community, a small mosque, with seven dead in the prayer hall.


From A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan ©2019. Published by MacMillan.

 

Interviews with Ausma Zehanat Khan

Ausma Zehanat Khan talks to Shelagh Rogers about her latest book, A Deadly Divide. 12:02
The mystery novelist talks about her latest book. 13:04

Other books by Ausma Zehanat Khan

 

 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.