This is the second in a detective series featuring Detective Sergeant Ash Rashid of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Ash is a Muslim, and the author does a nice job of adding aspects of Ash’s faith into the background of the story. Of course, Ash wouldn’t be a fictional detective without having a penchant for drinking, in spite of the fact that consumption of intoxicants is generally forbidden in the Qur’an. But with the horrible things Ash has seen on the job, alcohol is the only thing he has found to chase away the nightmares.
This story begins with a hit-and-run involving the mother of the best friend of Ash’s daughter. Ash gets a tip that the hit was a homicide rather than an accident, and endeavors to find out what really happened to Cassandra. In the process, he uncovers the possible involvement of dirty cops, and risks his own life in his effort to get justice for Cassandra.
Discussion: Indiana has a growing Muslim population estimated at approximately 280,000, some 2,000 of whom are in Indianapolis. And in fact, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is headquartered there, and the representative in Congress for Indiana’s 7th congressional district, André D. Carson, is a practicing Muslim. Not only does the background of The Outsider impart some of what it means to be of the Muslim faith, but the story also refers to the problems Muslims have experienced because of prejudice in this city (and undoubtedly in others).
It is for these reasons that I appreciated the book. The prose can be trite and leaden, and often lacks subtlety. Nevertheless, I am happy to encounter a protagonist from a minority, and one who works hard to incorporate his beliefs into his daily life as much as he can, thus providing many readers with a glimpse into a different culture.
Published by Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc., 2013