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Brothers in Blood

Chosen by Farhana

Sometimes, life doesn’t work out the way you planned. So, after a stint in prison, you find yourself a simple job and try and keep your head down until things turn up… Then your boss’s daughter runs away from home under dodgy circumstances and he and his thuggish sons expect you to go and find her. Or else…

Amer Anwar’s debut novel, Brothers in Blood, published by Dialogue Books, grabs you from page 1 and doesn’t let go until the very end. An intriguing set up, a pacey narrative, and a cast of loveable rogues that make up the main characters (except for the bad guys, who are really bad) are the main ingredients in this book. However, what makes this story stand out, is what Amer does with these ingredients. Firstly, Zaq, the Muslim ex-con, is a very likeable and down to earth protagonist with a mysterious back story, so you can’t help but root for him. In addition, the action takes place in the heart of Southall’s (west London) Sikh community, and the prose is also peppered with a wonderful mix of Punjabi words (and curses!).

Having grown up in west London, Amer clearly knows the setting, which is evident from the SatNav-like details of the characters’ routes and getaways. Before becoming a novelist, Amer had a variety of jobs, including driver, warehouse assistant, chalet rep and designer/creative artworker. He also has an MA in Creative Writing and he is a winner of the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award for this novel. In fact, the road to publication for the novel has almost as many twists and turns as its plot, e.g. as you’ll see from this interview. And speaking of the plot, soon, Zaq is unfairly involved in not just a family dispute, but kidnap, murder, stolen money, and a race against time to keep everyone alive, not least of all himself.

And where would a good hero be without a trusty sidekick? Enter Jags, the old best mate who’s also a dab hand with a laptop and a spare set of wheels, as he helps Zaq chase leads and run away from the bad guys when the danger gets too close. Their banter is also what makes this crime novel so surprisingly funny, providing plenty of laughs and light amongst all the dark. And by dark, I mean really dark. E.g., here’s a scene in a butcher’s shop that is not for the fainthearted. *Shudder*

So, if you’re in the mood for a crime novel with a colourful cast of characters, that’s a genuine page-turner, and keeps you guessing till the very end, then check out Brothers in Blood. And if that leaves you wanting more, there’s also a sequel called Stone Cold Trouble – yay!


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