You are now approaching Mile End.
Welcome to today’s stop on the Turn a Blind Eye Blog Tour.
We have a new Detective Inspector series in town, DI Maya Rahman. It’s a London based series and its nice to see there’s the gritty, dirty real east end of London feel to Vicky Newhams’ writing.
The book follows DI Rahman as she tries to find who murdered the current head of her old high school, with different colleagues and a personal tragedy of her own. This pretext for the story is the murder, but the real story behind the scenes is all about religion and culture.
Rahman is from Bangladesh, she moved to London when she was young and is more British than Bangladeshi, despite her appearance.
The murderer left a Buddhist precept alongside the body, loosely translating to refraining from taking that which is not given. I really liked that the phrases were written in the original language not just the translated English.
Rahmans new colleague is Australian, with an aboriginal wife, giving him both an awareness and understanding of cultural processes.
The school itself in Mile End, a known culturally diverse area is a mixed bag of ethnicities, making it difficult for the school to succeed and provide a strong moral compass to the students.
Throughout the book we learn more about all the religions, and a lot more about Rahmans childhood, the struggles her family faced, why she chose to work in law enforcement, and how this decision affected her family. There is a lot of talk around arranged (and forced) marriage and familial expectations to marry within your own culture with someone often from your original country of birth, there is a large physiological side to the decisions made which I’m sure will be a big factor in later books.
One of the things I really liked about this book is that there were parts that as you read it truths became obvious, but rather than dragging it out for a chapter or five the characters were intelligent enough to figure it out almost immediately, making it a pleasure to read.
All in all we enter DI Rahman’s world wanting to learn about the murder, and learn so much about culture and creed, about how hard it can be to do the right thing – and the obvious lengths the long time nemesis of most law enforcement officers, journalists, will go to in order to make headline news. There’s a multitude of potential suspects to her murder – the man who idolises her, or his wife, the parents of the daughter who killed herself, an ex husband, colleagues, family. Everyone could have motive. The question is did they do it, are they involved? And more importantly – will they all make it through to the end of the book?!
Lindas death is the start of something so much bigger, an understanding of the precepts, an insight into religion, how you can triumph over tragedy and sometimes you might just be a little too late to save the day.
Turn a Blind Eye is out now; Once you’ve read it come back and read the poem below. Its Bearhug by Michael Ondaatje, both the poem and its meaning are clear once you’ve reached the final page. ( and keep an eye out for the TV adaptation – rumour has it the rights have already been brought!)
Griffin calls to come and kiss him goodnight I yell ok. Finish something I'm doing, then something else, walk slowly round the corner to my son's room. He is standing arms outstretched waiting for a bearhug. Grinning. Why do I give my emotion an animal's name, give it that dark squeeze of death? This is the hug which collects all his small bones and his warm neck against me. The thin tough body under the pyjamas locks to me like a magnet of blood. How long was he standing there like that, before I came?