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Thursday 31 January 2019

Among The Ruins by Ausma Zehanat Khan #BlogTour @AusmaZehanat @noexitpress #AmongTheRuins

The murder of renowned political filmmaker, Zahra Sobhani, brings Esa Khattak's cultural holiday in Iran to a sudden halt. Dissidents are being silenced and Khattak's mere presence in Iran is a risk. Yet when asked to unofficially investigate the activist's death, he cannot resist. Soon, he finds himself embroiled in Iran's tumultuous politics and under surveillance by the government. When the trail leads back to Zahra's family in Canada, Khattak calls upon his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, for help. As Khattak gets caught up in the fate of Iran's political prisoners, Rachel sees through to the heart of the matter: Zahra's murder may not have been quite what it seemed. Steeped in suspense, Among the Ruins is a powerful, provocative mystery exploring the interplay of politics and religion, and the intensely personal ripple effects of one woman's murder.

Among The Ruins by Ausma Zehanat Khan was published in paperback on 24 January 2019 by No Exit Press and is book three in the Detective Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty mysteries.

As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour today, I'm delighted to share an extract from the book.

The small town of Varzaneh was a two-hour bus ride from the imperial capital of Esfahan. The bus wound through sand dunes along a rugged road, the early morning light describing the dunes in dust-pink whorls. Esa had been told to visit Varzaneh by Nasih, the proprietor of his guesthouse in Esfahan.
‘I see you in the teahouses or gardens all day,’ Nasih said. ‘You need a change of scene. There are places to visit nearby, but if you want to see something a little different, take the bus to Varzaneh, and visit the Salt Lake. You’ll like the pigeon towers, and you must walk along the Old Bridge. The people are friendly, though only a few may understand your Persian.’
Esa smiled. ‘Is my Farsi as unintelligible as that?’
‘You have an accent,’ Nasih said. ‘I can’t place it, but I like it. Go.’ And then surprising Khattak with his knowledge of the English proverb, ‘A change is as good as a rest.’
So Khattak had found himself on the first bus out of Esfahan, bumping along the eastern road to a town that seemed as if the desert had swallowed it up and spit it back out again, the dun-colored dwellings absorbed into the surrounding terrain. He had dutifully listened to the guide’s explanation of Varzaneh’s attractions: its history of Zoroastrianism, its faithful adherence to the middle Persian language, the craftsmanship of women skilled in weaving the traditional tablecloth of the sofreh.
‘You must go down to the river, you will see them laying the sofreh out.’
Khattak had visited the six-hundred-year-old Jame Masjid first, standing beneath the minaret the guide had boasted of, its sand colored brick rising to a height of sixty-five feet, over the old town and dunes. At its summit, the diamond-patterned brickwork was interrupted by a pair of loudspeakers, out of place in this desert setting. Some distance from the spire, the blue dome made a modest statement, patterns of desert and sky echoed in the old mosque’s architecture and in the inlaid tilework of the blue mihrab.
Khattak paused to read the inscription surrounding the mihrab. Shah Rukh, the son of Tamerlane the conqueror, had captured Esfahan in 1417, inscribing his plea for heirs on the mihrab’s blue kashani tiles. When Esa finished reading, he noticed a screen of tiny, symmetrical crosses reflecting a pattern on the floor, the crosses picked out against a wash of light. As he turned, two women in white chadors stepped over the pattern, the crosses mottling the fabric of their shawls. It was an arresting image – the blue mihrab, the sandy walls, the rose gold crosses on a field of white. It took him a moment to realize the women had turned from the screen to face him, the dials of their faces framed by their shawls.
The woman on the left stared back at him, her dark eyes huge in a clear, young face. She was indescribably lovely with high arched brows and softly flushed cheeks, but he was struck most by an impression of sorrow.
She’s damaged, he thought. And just as quickly, I haven’t come here to solve anyone’s problems but my own.
He didn’t know what prompted the thought. The woman didn’t speak to him, didn’t ask for anything, but neither did she look away, as if the space between them was weighted with intangible desires. She was looking at him, he couldn’t be sure she was seeing him.
He transferred his gaze to her companion. She might have been in her twenties, though it was difficult to tell with the enveloping chador that left her face half-hidden. She smiled at him, her glance bold and inquisitive, her eyes and lips tilted up at the corners, a cast to her features that
hinted at an impish nature. There was a beauty mark beside her left eyebrow, and underneath this a tiny sickle-shaped scar.
The call to the mid-day prayer sounded. He remembered his manners and glanced away, murmuring a greeting. The women murmured back, one reaching for the other’s hand. They disappeared down a narrow arcade, their figures diminishing under a succession of arches, elegant in their simplicity. He wasn’t thinking of the arches, or the light or the splendid mihrab.
He was left with the impression of dolorous eyes.

Ausma Zehanat Khan holds a Ph.D. in International Human Rights Law with a specialisation in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. 
She has practised immigration law and taught human rights law at Northwestern University and York University. 
Formerly, she served as Editor in Chief of Muslim Girl magazine, the first magazine to reflect the lives of young Muslim women. 

Her debut novel, The Unquiet Dead, won the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Novel. 
She is a longtime community activist and writer. 
Born in Britain, Ausma lived in Canada for many years before recently becoming an American citizen. 
She lives in Colorado with her husband.

For more information, visit her Website
Follow her on Twitter @AusmaZehanat
Author page on Facebook

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