The Blasphemer, by John Ling, a thriller set in New Zealand, addresses terrorism, religious extremism, the illicit drug trade, and their curious interconnections. Based on several actual cases, notably of Salmon Rushdie, a Muslim who criticized Islamic fanaticism and was forced into hiding, this novel centers around a similar protagonist, Abraham Khan, writer of a book critical of the extreme factions in his religious community who goes into hiding after a botched attempt on his life. Besides the effects on his personal well-being, his writing has international repercussions, setting off confrontations between white supremacists and other radical groups and rippling through the illicit drug trade. Through it all, Maya Raynes, Khan’s personal security professional, seeks to protect him, attempting to minimize the forces that threaten him.
Overall, this is an engaging thriller and strong representation of its genre. It is well-researched, demonstrating the work the author has done investigating the topics of Islam, criminal justice, terrorism, and the psychology of fanaticism. At times the book almost descends into the didactic, with long speeches from experts on terrorism or the history of Islam, but as these speeches hold high interest and are given in context, such as a radio program, they do stop short of obvious plot device. Similarly, the fanatical Muslims and white supremacists almost threaten to descend into stereotype but always pull back with a show of humanity: fear or remorse. Although suspenseful, the book doesn’t quite reach edge-of-the seat because of the briefness of the chapters; there are eight-three, some only several pages long, so the tension is not allowed to develop to the breaking point. However, each chapter/scene does end on a high note, as if we are watching a movie unfold – which the book may be intended to be developed into. Overall the strengths of this novel outweigh minor weaknesses.
|Page Count||276 pages|
|Publisher||Kia Kaha Press|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|
|Category||Mystery, Crime & Thriller|