Hall of Fame Review: Homegrown Hero by Khurrum Rahman

Monday 6 April 2020
Title: Homegrown Hero
Author: Khurrum Rahman
Publisher: HQ
Publication Date: 25th July 2019
Pages: 384
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Reluctant spy. Trained assassin.

JAY QASIM is back home in West London and in pursuit of normality. He’s swapped dope-dealing for admin, and spends his free time at the local Muslim Community Centre or cruising around Hounslow in his beloved BMW. No-one would guess that he was the MI5 spy who foiled the most devastating terrorist attack in recent history.

But Jay’s part in sabotaging Ghurfat-Al-Mudarris’ hit on London didn’t pass unnoticed.

IMRAN SIDDIQUI was trained to kill in Afghanistan by the terrorist cell who saved his life after his home was destroyed by war. The time has finally come for him to repay them – throwing him headlong into the path of Jay Qasim.

Now, they must each decide whose side they’re really on.

I have a new favourite author and his name is Khurrum Rahman. Homegrown Hero is one of the best thrillers I have ever read. It is one of the best stories I have ever read. I really am struggling to put my thoughts into words. I’m stunned by this book and how much it’s affected me not only upon finishing it, but during my time reading it too.

East of Hounslow was the first book in this series and introduces Javid (Jay) Qasim. Now possibly one of the most unluckiest people in the world. Instantly likeable and endearing, he is a character I have rooted for since the minute I first read about him. I won’t go into too much detail about his character or his story, as to say too much would spoil the events of East or Hounslow for those that haven’t read it yet. Safe to say however that if East of Hounslow was a starter, Homegrown Hero is one hell of a main course. You can read my review for East of Hounslow here.

Khurrum Rahman wrote an unforgettable story in East of Hounslow, and that continues here. That book really set the scene for everything that happens within the pages of this story. Khurrum’s writing, which was fantastic anyway, is even better here. What stands out for me most is the absolute realism of the characters created. These aren’t just characters created simply for a thriller. They are characters that carry a message. Characters that have feelings and thoughts that are palpable. They are believable, some scarily so. Khurrum has done a phenomenal job creating this cast of characters. I so want to go into detail about each and every one of them, but of course I can’t without giving things away. The bad guys are bad. Truly bad. Sickeningly evil. The entire story is a real rollercoaster ride of a read, emotions are played with and heads are fucked with.

Khurrum in places almost makes you root for the bad guy. There’s a character in the book called Imran (Imy). All I am going to say on this character is, aside from Jay, he was my favourite character. The life that Khurrum creates for Imy tore at my heartstrings. I was reading feeling genuine fear at what was ahead and how things would turn out not only for Jay, but Imy also. As I neared the closing pages of the story I had an actual lump in my throat. Khurrum isn’t an author who will just give every character a happy ending, and that is why I was constantly on edge of what was to come with every single chapter. I had no idea where these characters would end up by the final page.

Fiction this may be, but characters and stories like this exist in the real world. Khurrum Rahman lays bare a world that most do not see, or choose not to see. Or, a world that we do see, but shows it from different angles. He shows that everything isn’t always as clear cut as we may be led to believe. He shows how the actions of one group of people can set in motion a ripple effect with devastating consequences. The emotion I felt reading this story is something I only experience with those truly special books, ones with characters and stories that aren’t easy to forget. The tension of the last 15% or so of this book was almost unbearable, but there was no chance of anything taking me away from my Kindle until I’d read that final page. And then that final page came along and twatted me right across my face. That last 15% should come with a health warning. I can’t tell you the last time a book had this effect on me. Both of these books would be perfect for a book club as I think they would provoke a timely and important discussion, the issues raised are so important and present in our world, and unfortunately probably always will be.

When I had to put my Kindle down to continue with everyday life, I couldn’t stop thinking about these characters. I fell asleep thinking about them and I woke up and wanted to pick up my Kindle straightaway. Even now, I know I’ll be thinking about these characters until the minute I can get my hands on book three, Ride or Die. How many books do that to a reader? This series came on my radar off a Facebook ad. I was going to deactivate my Facebook only a couple of weeks ago. I am so glad I saw that advert and read East of Hounslow. I will never forget the stories contained within these two books. In a few years time I will look back on them and, unlike most other books where the stories fade from your memory, be able to remember exactly what happened. I am just in awe and I am actually quite gutted to have now read both of these books as for the past week or so I have spent all of my spare time reading them. At the end of the year I can honestly say I think my Top 3 Books of the Year will all be written by this incredible author. And that’s without having even read book three, I know for a fact it will be just as good as these two books if not better. There is honestly just not one negative thing I can say about these books. Buy them now, you will not regret it.

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