A twisted killer has a deadly riddle for DI Maya Rahman to solve in this pulse-racing thriller, the first in an addictive new series set in East London.
A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:
I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.
At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.
Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, and with a serial killer on her hands, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim. (Goodreads)
It is no secret that since finishing Hangman by Daniel Cole, I have been struggling to pick up another book and finish it. So, it was a happy coincidence that it was getting very close to when I had to start Turn A Blind Eye for this blog tour. Though both books are crime books and both have female protagonists, but there the similarities end. Any preconception of trying to compare these two very different beasts ended and I was able to enjoy the book for its own identity.
Turn a Blind Eye is very much a slow burner from the get go. The death of the head teacher at the school seemed to be hinted at being linked at the suicide of a pupil just before Christmas. As the main character, Maya Rahman, is drawing up the list of suspects and motives, we as the readers find out about the same time. With the second murder, it becomes apparent that the murders are tied up to 5 Buddhist Precepts and the investigation shifts to who is next. Since we are given a bit of background to those who worked with Linda, the first victim, and her links to the girl who committed suicide, many of her colleagues fit the other precepts, except the first one.
Though the murders are central to the book, Newham pulls in many other themes in this book and adds to the tinder box of a community on edge. It is clear that those working in a multi-cultural school are having to respect those cultures and religions beliefs and customs, but also adhere to the laws and government guidelines that are in place to safeguard the pupils at the schools. There is a risk that the trust and respect that is gained by the schools may crumble should it be seen that they are intruding in these customs and beliefs, especially if those who are in charge are from a different culture or background. Throw into the mix a woman, who moved from Bangladesh with her family when she was young and bucks tradition by becoming a policewoman, and you can see the difficulties that people who are caught between their family culture and the country they have been brought up in Britain.
I did find the mystery around the murders interesting, but at times I found myself drawn to the other aspects of the book, especially that of Maya. She is such a complicated woman and is thrust into this case after having to deal with a tragedy of her own. The fact that the murder that she is investigating occurred in the area she lived in and the school she attended, also makes this case all the more delicate for her.
While this book, and hopefully series, looks to be centring around Maya, we are also introduced to her new partner, Dan. He is moved from Australia in order to fast track his career. He is as much a fish out of water as the new teacher at the high school. What made him more endearing was the fact that he has left his wife and children back in Australia and you can see that he is conflicted over this. I feel we have only just scratched the surface of Dan and I do hope that with further books we will get to know him better.
The conclusion of the case may mean that the victims family have closure of sorts, the person responsible, their motivation and the fallout because of this has vast ripples throughout the community as a whole.
The very last chapter had a bitter sweet feel to it. I really did feel for Maya visiting her mother. I can’t help but feel that Maya’s estranged father my pop up in future books.
Turn A Blind Eye is a strong start to what looks to be a promising series. Maya is an engaging character that you can’t help empathise with. Though the mystery surrounding the murders was difficult to follow and there didn’t appear to be many clues to who was behind them, when it came together it did make sense.
However, the real strength of this book is the way in which the author has captured the characters and the way in which we respond when our perceived “normal” way of living is threatened and the lengths some people will go to.