Latest Reads: Western Fringes – Amer Anwar

Southall, West London. 
Recently released from prison, Zaq Khan is lucky to land a dead-end job at a builders’ yard. All he wants to do is keep his head down and put his past behind him. 
But when he has to search for his boss’s runaway daughter it quickly becomes apparent he’s not simply dealing with family arguments and arranged marriages as he finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception, murder and revenge. 
With time running out and pressure mounting, can he find the missing girl before it’s too late? And if he does, can he keep her – and himself – alive long enough to deal with the people who want them both dead? 

I bloody loved this!

What I have to say more? Well ok then but you asked for it.

Western Fringes is the most fun (??!!??) I’ve had with a book in ages, a dark, violently (ironically)  funny novel with a hugely distinct British Asian flavour, some immediately lovable (and the opposite!) characters, a story that just sends you reeling all over Southall and wider London, set within a vibrant community that just comes alive on the page.

Zaq Khan has served his time and just wants to keep his head down – sadly for him his boss has other idea’s, threatening all sorts unless  Zaq tracks down his daughter. Assuming she has simply run away to avoid an arranged marriage he soon finds that there is a lot more going on than that – and blimey is he going to have to think fast and often to extricate himself and probably everyone else from a situation that gets more dangerous by the second.

The pace is excellent with witty, sparking dialogue and a cleverly authentic descriptive sense that just immerses you into Zaq’s world and that of those around him. Often hilarious, but also occasionally grit your teeth violent, Western Fringes fairly rocks along, fascinating, frenetic, highly intriguing from the opening pages until the very last line – there is not one even vaguely negative thing I can say about it.

I lived those relationships – the friendship between Zaq and his housemates, even more so the one with his mate Jags just lit up in my mind, I defy you not to fall in love with all of them. I was also delighted with the “damsel in distress” vibe where the damsel was less distressed and more intelligently sneaky – she may be in a world of trouble but that doesn’t mean she needs a knight in shining armour. The bad guys are so realistically bad, the good guys are not angels, it is all so very brilliantly readable.

I was highly impressed with how Amer Anwar walks the cultural line – showing us a diverse and dynamic community where no matter what your background or your influences,  in the end people are just people, some nice, some nasty, but just human beings – inventively educational the hugely character driven plot tells it like it is, no punches pulled and so extraordinarily gripping that I found myself quite literally gripping the book at times – then finding it  hard to put down.

The storytelling is truly exceptional  and I have to give a nod to the final few chapters which read a little like a heist movie as all the threads come together, our motley crew face the music and we all hold our breath to see who wins out in the end. Genuinely I think the person I had the most sympathy for at that point was poor old Dad…

So yeah, what can I say….

I bloody loved this! Hmm.

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Happy Reading!

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