Despite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she’s still uneasy at Khattak’s tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton’s death. Drayton’s apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn’t seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak’s team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case. It soon comes to light that Drayton may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.
If that’s true, any number of people might have had reason to help Drayton to his death, and a murder investigation could have far-reaching ripples throughout the community. But as Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, with no easy answers. Had the specters of Srebrenica returned to haunt Drayton at the end, or had he been keeping secrets of an entirely different nature? Or, after all, did a man just fall to his death from the Bluffs?
In her spellbinding debut, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a complex and provocative story of loss, redemption, and the cost of justice that will linger with readers long after turning the final page.
In Khan's beautiful and powerful first novel, Esa Khattak, a second-generation Canadian Muslim and the head of Toronto's Community Policing Section, and his sergeant, Rachel Getty, investigate the death of Christopher Drayton, who fell from a cliff overlooking Lake Ontario "with no evidence of outside interference." When their inquiries reveal that Drayton was, in fact, the alias for a Serb who oversaw the slaughter of thousands of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, Khattak and Getty have to wonder whether foul play was involved. Through her characters' interactions and passages taken from testimony at war crimes trials, Khan reveals the depths of horror and venality that people are capable of while also portraying the healing of long-sundered relationships. Who killed Drayton remains a mystery until the final pages, but Khan's story, as well as her author and source notes, leave no doubt of the monstrous crimes committed against Muslims in Bosnia while U.N. forces turned away.