Western Fringes was published on 31 May 2017 by Edurus Books and is available to buy here
***WINNER OF THE CWA DEBUT DAGGER***
A Sikh girl on the run. A Muslim ex-con who has to find her. A whole heap of trouble. Southall, West London. After being 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 the past behind him. But when he’s forced to search for his boss’s runaway daughter it quickly becomes apparent things aren’t all to do 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?
Amer Anwar’s Western Fringes won the CWA Debut Dagger Award. It is easy to see why it won. It is a TERRIFIC read, with a gorgeous Asian flavour. There is something for everyone. It is packed with sparkling comedic touches, insight into a fascinating and vibrant Asian subculture, a few chilling scenes (or maybe chilli scenes) and truly excellent dialogue.
The story is set in Southall, a vibrant Asian community in London. We meet Zaq, a man who has come out of prison and lost everything. He is now working in a dead end job for the formidable Mr Brar. Brar demands that Zaq trace his missing daughter. Rita has run away from home. Zaq finds himself threatened with a long term spell in prison, if he fails to cooperate. Zaq teams up with his best friend, Jags to hunt for the girl. He finds everyone is after him, from Brar’s thuggish sons to some people from his past seeking revenge. Will Zaq find Rita? What is the real story behind the missing girl? Will Zaq manage to go a day without being beaten up?
I LOVED it. If you want something a bit different in contemporary crime, you should check out Western Fringes. Zaq is a wonder. He is the sort of man, who uses his wits to survive. He survived in prison by getting fit and learning how to fight. On the mean streets of Southall, he learns to duck and dive. He is funny, at the same time. We get masses of comedy from Zaq and Jags, as they join forces to seek out Rita. They are your Asian Men Behaving Badly or Inbetweeners. Hilarious banter. I really felt for Zaq. He is a walking mass of bruises and aches. He goes from being beaten up by one set of muscleheads, to finding a few more fists are just around the corner. Everyone recognises him by the deteriorating state of his face. I had sympathy pains for him. Luckily his friends rally around him and make him a cuppa!
This is bold. This is original. This is fresh. It is one of those books that shows you how the Asian community functions, with the divisions resulting from religious beliefs and the issue of honour. It is clever. This is one thriller rooted in realism. I was blown away by Western Fringes. Highly recommended!