December 1, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Five Reasons To Read Blood Betrayal (Blackwater Falls #2) By Ausma Zehanat Khan

Blood Betrayal (Blackwater Falls #2) By Ausma Zehanat Khan- Summary

Goodreads summary (review below) of Blood Betrayal by Ausma Zehanat Khan:

A complex and timely mystery, Blood Betrayal proves once again that Ausma Zehanat Khan is a writer at the peak of her powers.

In Blackwater Falls, Colorado, veteran police officer Harry Cooper is hot on the heels of some local vandals when the situation turns; believing one of them has a gun, Harry opens fire, and Duante Reed, a young Black man, is killed. The “gun” in his hands was a bottle of spray paint. Meanwhile, in nearby Denver, a drug raid goes south, and a Latino teen, Mateo Ruiz, is also killed.

Detective Inaya Rahman is all too familiar with the name of the young cop who has seemingly killed Kelly Broda. Kelly is the son of the police officer John Broda, who led a violent attack on her when they were both in Denver. No one is more surprised than Inaya when John turns up on her doorstep, pleading for her help in proving the innocence of his son.

With the Denver Police force spread thin between the two cases, protests on both sides of the cases begin. Inaya and her boss, Lieutenant Waqas Seif, have their work cut out for them to consider the guilt of the perpetrators and their victims. Harry was, by all accounts, an officer dedicated to the communities. Was this shooting truly a terrible mistake? Duante was, to some, a street artist with no prior record, but to others, he was a vandal. Mateo was either in the wrong place at the wrong time or a dangerous drug dealer. In either case, was lethal force truly necessary?

Forced to reckon with her own prejudices and work through those of her colleagues around her, Inaya must discover the truth of what really happened on one fateful night in Blackwater Falls.

Before I start, let me state that Blood Betrayal can absolutely be read as a stand-alone. However, I HIGHLY recommend the first book in the Blackwater Falls (also named Blackwater Falls).

Reason #1- Themes

As with Blackwater Falls (I was on hiatus when I read this tremendous book), Ausma Zehanat Khan weaves in heavy themes throughout Blood Betrayal without losing any of the thrills or suspense. Many of these themes are not my lane or mine to comment on. So, I’m going to list them out. Where I feel I can comment, I will.

  1. Race- This includes not only white versus a multitude of minorities but interracial conflict, as well.
    1. Additionally, there is an exploration of the LGBT+ community and their battles.
  2. How family secrets and family conflict can cause poisoning.
  3. Religion and how some see it as our entire person or use it as a point of discrimination (there will be a quote under the writing section that speaks to this theme).
  4. PTSD
    1. Having suffered from PTSD in my childhood and watching it plague my father, I feel Ausma Zehanat Khan did a brilliant job conveying this theme.

‘Unless you are a sociopath, you can’t kill innocent people and without experiencing the blow back. In this case, the severe mental trauma at the heart of PTSD.’

  1. Police brutality and the use of it to silence minorities cover up police brutality.
    1. This includes the infiltration of white supremacy groups within the police and army.


Reason #2-Writing

Despite these heavy themes, a mystery and thriller, Ausma Zehanat Khan has a way of stringing words together that reads as beautiful prose.

‘It’s a personal choice’… When she looked down her braid fell forward across her blouse. It was hair, just hair. It carried no special import on its own; was charged only with the meaning she ascribed to it. A sign of her personal devotion. Safe’s words made her feel exposed. ‘Hijab is a private matter.’… I’m not certain if I want to wear a head scarf, again. It was part of my life for years. Then it became this heavily politicized thing, everywhere you looked. Laws enforcing it, laws banning it. A talking point of each conversation. A target on my back… it’s as if I became my scarf and there was nothing else to me. My private, personal relationship with God became everyone’s buissness.’

Through the themes in Blood Betrayal, Ausma Zehanat Khan provides deeply personal, brutal honesty. And she does so in an unleashed but delicate way. Never once does her writing grow stagnant, choppy, or falter. Furthermore, Blood Betrayal remains balanced between these themes and the mystery at the story’s heart. This is due to the execution of Ausma Zehanat Khan’s writing and conscious plotting.

Reason #3-Characters

All the characters, whether new to the series or carry-over main characters from Blackwater Falls, are deeply explored. The main characters continue to peel back layers, developing them further across the arch of two books in this series. I expect nothing more than for this to continue as the Blackwater Fall series progresses. The new characters at the mystery’s center are never left behind. They, too, are explored in deeply personal ways. The connections between all characters are dynamic and multi-dimensional.

Blood Betrayal by Ausma Zehanat Khan Review Summary

Thank you to Minotaur Books and Recorded Books for an advance copy of Ausma Zehanat Khan’s Blood Betrayal, released on November 7th.

Reason #4- Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

As I mentioned above briefly, the mystery of Blood Betrayal is never lost to the heavy themes woven throughout. The suspense is taught and keeps readers captivated until the very end. There are multiple cases at play, all interlocking. The red herrings often lead me down the wrong path where I thought I figured out the story. However, that wasn’t the case. And even when the main mystery’s solution came to light, Ausma Zehanat Khan wasn’t done. There was gripping suspense that held me tight until the very last page.

Reason #5 Audiobook

Know this for those looking to listen to the audiobook of Blood Betrayal. Recorded Books does an excellent production of the story. Once again, Fareeda Pasha does a perfect job narrating Blood Betrayal. Each character and their struggles are brought to life vividly. She makes the Blood Betrayal jump off the page. You genuinely feel their pain, grief, and anguish through her performance.

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