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The Unquiet Dead

(Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,365 ratings  ·  563 reviews
Detective Esa Khattak is in the midst of his evening prayers when he receives a phone call asking that he and his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, look into the death of a local man who has fallen off a cliff. At first Christopher Drayton’s death—which looks like an accident—doesn’t seem to warrant a police investigation, especially not from Khattak and Rachel’s team, whic ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 27th 2017 by No Exit Press (first published December 30th 2014)
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,365 ratings  ·  563 reviews

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Simply superb. Harrowing and compelling, defying genres, The Unquiet Dead left a mark on me and I'll be thinking about it for a long time. It's a crime thriller, it's a historical fiction, it's a war story. It's beautiful and heartbreaking.
Dark and brutal at times, moody and bleak, I couldn't stop reading, even when at times it left me struggling to breathe.
I'm at a loss to find words to explain how beautiful that book is despite it's horrific subject. So powerful and haunting, The Unquiet Dead
The Unquiet Dead has moved me emotionally like no other mystery ever has before and is, quite possibly, one of the best books I've read. I will admit to being an historian and the amount of research that Khan invested in this book is staggering. The mystery involvess the death of Christopher Drayton. Was it accidental, murder or even suicide that led Drayto over the Canadian bluffs. Even more mysterious is the question of Drayton's true identity. It falls to Detective Rachel Gerry and her boss, ...more
Everything about the concept of this debut novel intrigued me: a disgraced and demoted second-generation Canadian Muslim police investigator, Khattuck, finds himself investigating the suspicious death of a man who turns out to be the Bosnian Serb war criminal, Dražen Krstić. Krstić had changed his name to Christopher Drayton and had settled into a life of comfort in Toronto. The NYT had just such a story leading their (3.1.15) Sunday edition last week, so we know it is entirely plausible that Bo ...more
In this excellent debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan presents a story with crime old and possibly new; a mystery of identity and possibly murder or was it accident; reminders of genocide as well as the need for and cost of justice; social ills at home and abroad. She works with a very bold pen and does it very, very well. The plotting and characters are well done and eminently believable. The prose is equal to her task.

In one example of the beauty and elegance of her prose, I've selected a sentence
Liz Barnsley
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly powerful novel, setting a mystery within the context of the war in the former Yugoslavia – really hitting home about what happened there and creating a group of unforgettable characters. This had me in tears an awful lot of the time.

I, of course, am old enough to remember that time but being removed from it, watching images on the television that never really got to the heart of the matter, you don’t really get how godawful that war was, how many lives were lost, what went on there
I love to read really smart, well written mysteries! They can be difficult to find sometimes but when you do, it's amazing! I would recommend this novel to fans of Tana French as there are similarities between this novel and Tana French's novels in terms of their being intelligent and well written mysteries.

Complex characters, a heartbreaking story, high quality writing and great pacing made this one stand out to me! I loved every moment of it and can't wait to see what is to come from Ausma Ze
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
HOLY COW. That was good.

For a full review check out:
3.5 stars. A complex and at times heartbreaking novel, whose true focus is the devastation of the Bosnian War and the mystery of Western "neutrality", as war crimes of savage proportions were perpetuated on the Muslim population by Serbian militia. The death of Christopher Drayton, who fell from a steep cliff, is the impetus which introduces us to detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, with Toronto Community Policing. The list of suspects is lengthy and at times convoluted (perhaps intended to ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Up until a few years ago I had never read any books like this. By that I mean the books that are crime fiction but also break your heart. The majority of the books that I had read regarding the atrocities of war were committed during WW2. The Unquiet Dead which is based around events that occurred in 1995, 50 years later, show that nothing had changed. Men, women and children losing their lives due to ethnic cleansing. I remember the events that happened in the former Yugoslavia. I had seen repo ...more
Roman Clodia
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Patriotism, nationalism,' she said impatiently. 'Call it what you wish. Mine the only flag, mine the only way. All else is inferior, trample it underfoot. Despise it, detest it.'

Harrowing and upsetting, Khan takes an unflinching look at how the horrors of 'ethnic cleansing' in 1990s Bosnia reverberate into the present. Using the structure of a crime novel, she presents us with a disturbing amount of real-life testimony, of guilt confessions from the later war crime hearings, and material from
Kirsty ❤️
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, crime
This is an interesting and eye opening debut. Really thought provoking. At the time of the Bosnian crisis I wrapped up in my own misery and while I know there was an atrocity I remember it mostly as headline news rather than the full details. So as well as a gripping murder mystery I found the book to be so educational. Like WW2 these are war crimes that should never be forgotten and even in fiction it's possible to work towards bringing knowledge. So for that thank you.

The storyline itself - a
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent police procedural set in Toronto. The characters were human and believable, and the mystery intriguing. When the murder victim is a bad person, how vigorously should justice be pursued? If you're Sgt. Rachel Getty, it's all the way. I enjoyed the setting and characters, but found it hard to cope with the details of the Muslim genocide in Bosnia. Important book.
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be published on 13/1/2015

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my review copy.

This is a moving and intelligent debut from Canadian/British author Ausma Zehanat Khan.

It is a story of revenge and retribution, with flashbacks to Bosnia in the 1990s and the horrors of rape camps and ethnic cleansing. Set in Canada, we follow Inspector Esa Khattak who heads the CPS (Community Policing Section) and his partner, Rachel Getty. They deal with racial and politically sensitive crimes. Khattak
After I had finished this book, I kept wondering "Why?".

Why did the author use such a totally unlikely detective story to showcase the horrors at Srebrenica? If I gave examples, I would be revealing too much of the story, but I ask anyone who has read the book to consider how probable this mystery story is. To me, this lack of verisimilitude took away from the real story which the author wanted to tell - the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia.

I also question why the author chose to make one of the c
The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan is a stunning debut novel with Detective Esa Khattak and his partner Rachel Getty. They are called to investigate the death of Christopher Drayton thought to be an accidental fall from a cliff, or was it? As the investigation evolves, there are questions about the victim's identity and his ties to Bosnia and the ethnic cleansing that slaughtered tens of thousands of people during the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 during the height of the Bosnian war. This is ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Once again with The Unquiet Dead I have had the privilege of reading a book that defies any simplistic recognition of it being a ‘crime thriller’. Instead what we experience as readers is a searing testimony to the futility and brutality of war, in this instance the violent break up of the former Yugoslavia, and a sensitive and heartfelt portrayal of survivor rage, and guilt. All this is cocooned within the more linear investigation of a suspicious death; a death that reaches back into the turbu ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, I honestly don’t quite know where to start with this review as I can’t find the words to describe how much it has left me reeling. I don’t normally take breaks while reading a book but in this case, I often felt the need to go off and google fun and fluffy things in an attempt to get rid of the humongous lump in my throat.

Christopher Drayton’s body is found at the foot of the cliffs. Accident or suicide? It soon becomes apparent Drayton wasn’t who he claimed to be so is there a more sinist
Maggie Gordon
The Unquiet Dead is a mystery novel tackling a very dark part of human history. Though it provides a powerful critique of the Bosnian war, it fails to deliver a satisfying novel. The foundation of the novel is meant to center on Rachel Getty and her superior Esa Khattak. While Khan hints at interesting character motivations, I never really bought into the things that she claimed the characters were supposed to be. They did not seem particularly close which was unfortunate since other characters ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Christine
In 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from the crumbling state of Yugoslavia, federation of six republics formed after WWII. Any disquiet a unification of Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Albanians, and Slovenes engendered was suppressed by communist puppet Tito. After his death in 1980, religious and cultural conflicts resurfaced. By 1991, the conflicts had become civil war. When Bosnia, with its complex mix of Serbs, Muslims and Croats, pushed for independence, Bosnia's Serb ...more
For me, what this book comes down to is the fact that the author doesn’t really show a lot of talent for fiction writing. She has impressive credentials and clearly knows what’s what in terms of Bosnia and Srebrenica, and I like that she brought those things into her debut. However, The Unquiet Dead is poorly written, sloppily constructed, and very troubling in relation to female representation and the attitude adopted toward all female characters. I wanted to like this book, but appreciation fo ...more
Read Harder 2018 task: Read a mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author.

This is a difficult book to review. Because of the subject matter, it's one of those books that makes you feel like a bad person if you give it less than 4 or 5 stars. Unlike other Goodreads users, however, I don't think a 3-star rating means a book is bad or even "just ok". To me, a 3-star rating means the book had promise but execution didn't quite work. That's what I found here.

The Unquiet Dead is a mystery novel set
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is in part a page turning murder mystery with complex characters and part a heartbreaking story of the Bosnian war that explores the themes of loss and the cost of justice. Rachel Getty and Esa Kahattak work in a special division of the Canadian Police that handle minority-sensitive cases. They get called in on a case that on the outside looks like an average citizen fell off the bluffs in an unfortunate accident but rumors are floating around that he isn’t an average Joe at all but rather ...more
I expected to love this book: a Canadian police procedural examining the horrors of the Bosnian genocide, written by a Muslim-Canadian woman who is an expert in human rights and Balkan war crimes, subjects I find grossly underrepresented in literature. Alas, the shallowness of most of the characters-- especially the women-- tired me. I was intrigued by the crime, liked the detectives (more rounded-out characters) but could not get past the flat characters. This would be a great recommendation fo ...more
First Sentence: Esa Khattak turned his head to the right, offering the universal salaam at the conclusion of the evening prayer.

Esa Khattak and Det. Rachel Getty are members of the Canadian Community Policing Section which handles minority-sensitive investigation. At first glance, it doesn’t seem that the death of Christopher Drayton, who is believed to have fallen from a cliff, fits their charter. Or does it? And is that Drayton’s real name? Was he really Canadian, or did he have a much darker
Judy Collins
A special thank you to Minotaur Books, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

THE UNQUIET DEAD, Ausma Zehanat Khan’s stunning debut, and the first in the Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak series delivers a powerful and complex mystery and suspense, keeping you holding your breath, for the next installment.

Detective Rachel Getty (she has some secrets of her own) and her boss Esa Khattak (a second-generation Canadian Muslim with some secrets) who heads the new
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Unquiet Dead – A Fantastic Debut

The Unquiet Dead is the fantastic debut from Ausma Zehanat Khan, and she really gets to grip with a story, with genocide at its heart. She raises questions about what we in the West did as we stood by and watched Bosnia and her people being raped and murdered and then ignored as the Serbs broke centuries of common living to unadulterated hated for their neighbours.

Christopher Drayton has been found dead at the bottom of the bluffs after an evening walk, and no
Joanne Robertson
When I started to read this book, it became obvious that the book I was reading wasn’t the book I was expecting! It was so much better! When I finished it I felt lost, an unexpected reaction to the heart wrenching tale I had just experienced. It’s not a book to rush through to discover the mystery at its core, but a journey to savour and let the characters and their circumstances resonate with the many different emotions evoked. It’s a story that once it entwines itself around your heart, won’t ...more
Visit the locations in the bookToronto and BosniaH

The Unquiet Dead

For a debut novel, this was ambitious but I’m so pleased the author took that leap of faith as she’s produced a meaty read and one which is both police procedural, mystery, relevant and historically intriguing

The characters plot and setting are unique – lead character is a Canadian Muslim police investigator, Khattuck, whose recent case turns out to the death of a man who used to be a Bosnian Serb war criminal. So many people from that time must
Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling
My View:
Draped in a cloak called crime fiction this narrative speaks of truths we all need to hear.

WOW! This book is….is so many things, it has blown me away! I don’t know where to begin or how to write a review to do this book justice. And did I mention this is the author’s debut novel? This author is incredibly gifted and I predict this book winning many awards.

This book:
• Is a great work of crime fiction.
• Speaks in a voice that is intelligent, articulate and captivating.
• Is at times beautif
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Ausma Zehanat Khan is a British-born Canadian living in the United States, whose own parents are heirs to a complex story of migration to and from three different continents. A former adjunct professor at American and Canadian universities, she holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law, with the 1995 Srebrenica massacre as the main subject of her dissertation. Previously the Editor in Chief ...more

Other books in the series

Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak (5 books)
  • The Language of Secrets (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak, #2)
  • Among the Ruins (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak, #3)
  • A Dangerous Crossing (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak, #4)
  • A Deadly Divide (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak #5)
“Nothing about multiculturalism antagonized Rachel. She liked all kinds of food, clothing, cultural customs, and music. The one thing that held her aloof was a fear of offending through ignorance.” 2 likes
“The culture of power versus the power of culture,” he quoted. “One side always loses.” 2 likes
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