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The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad

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The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad
UK Publication: March 2022
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

This ARC was provided by Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

The first but surely not the last an author to watch out for!

Synopsis from Goodreads: Sent back to his birthplace–Lahore’s notorious red-light district–to hush up the murder of a girl, a man finds himself in an unexpected reckoning with his past.

Not since childhood has Faraz returned to the Mohalla, in Lahore’s walled inner city, where women continue to pass down the art of courtesan from mother to daughter. But he still remembers the day he was abducted from the home he shared with his mother and sister there, at the direction of his powerful father, who wanted to give him a chance at a respectable life. Now Wajid, once more dictating his fate from afar, has sent Faraz back to Lahore, installing him as head of the Mohalla police station and charging him with a mission: to cover up the violent death of a young girl.

It should be a simple assignment to carry out in a marginalized community, but for the first time in his career, Faraz finds himself unable to follow orders. As the city assails him with a jumble of memories, he cannot stop asking questions or winding through the walled city’s labyrinthine alleyways chasing the secrets–his family’s and his own–that risk shattering his precariously constructed existence.

Profoundly intimate and propulsive, The Return of Faraz Ali is a spellbindingly assured first novel that poses a timeless question: Whom do we choose to protect, and at what price?

My Thoughts: Wow for a debut author this novel shows immense talent. The story is immersive the characters flawed but likeable and the corruption all too believable.

The story moves backwards and forwards in time from Pakistan in the 1940s to the 1970s via Libya in WWII. To understand events and allegiances in the central storyline the reader needs to know the events in the past that link the main characters.

This was a fascinating look at a time and place I knew nothing about and I loved learning about the Kanjari their place in society and how the community of women functions, a community where a daughter is more valuable than a son. I also appreciated the insight into the colonial regiments who fought with the allies in WWII.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about life in the Pakistani red light district and anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery where nothing is black and white and no-one completely innocent.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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