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A Dangerous Crossing    by Ausma Zehanat Khan order for
Dangerous Crossing
by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've enjoyed this thought-provoking mystery series by Ausma Zehanat Khan since I read her first book, The Language of Secrets. Her stories center on a unique police partnership - Esa Khattak (a second generation Canadian Muslim who heads Community Policing in Toronto, Canada) and his subordinate, partner and friend, Rachel Getty.

Though the first two books took place in Canada, they pulled in very relevant international issues - Middle East jihadists and Bosnian Serb war crimes. The third episode, based on 'the real-life murder of Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi in July 2003', took Esa and Rachel to Iran. Now, in A Dangerous Crossing, author Khan delves into another timely and disturbing issue, that of the Syrian refugee crisis and human trafficking.

Esa's oldest friend Nate Clare and his sister Audrey run an NGO, Woman to Woman. Audrey has been working on the ground on the Greek island of Lesvos, trying to fast-track refugees to Canada. Now Audrey has disappeared right after the murder of French Interpol agent Aude Bertin (who was tracking refugees to France) and a Syrian refugee. Both were shot with Audrey's gun! The PM has given Esa carte blanche to investigate. Nate has also dispatched Sehr Ghilzai, the NGO's legal counsel, to Lesvos. Sehr's love for Esa has not been returned, though they remain friends.

Esa and Rachel learn that Audrey was helping a young Syrian refugee search for a girl who ended up on a different boat, and has been missing ever since. Audrey was regularly travelling back and forth to Turkey, as well as making trips to Europe. Was she also collecting evidence of human trafficking and war crimes? Of course, Esa, Rachel, Sehr and Nate do get their answers, though only after a violent crescendo of an ending, where Rachel shines once more and Esa is forced to make a difficult choice.

This series is always worth reading, for mystery fans and for anyone concerned about human rights. Here, the author (through Esa) reminds us that 'Syria had been a nation of twenty-two million. Fully half that population was displaced'. She also comments on the search for Audrey versus the missing refugee girl - 'One life was sought with crushing urgency; the other had vanished unremarked.' I highly recommend A Dangerous Crossing to you.

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