Review: East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman

Thursday 2 April 2020
Title: East of Hounslow
Author: Khurrum Rahman
Publisher: HQ
Publication Date: 30th November 2017
Pages: 353
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Meet Jay.
Small-time dealer.
Accidental jihadist.
The one man who can save us all?

Javid – call him Jay – is a dope dealer living in West London. He goes to mosque on Friday, and he’s just bought his pride and joy – a BMW. He lives with his mum, and life seems sweet.

But his world is about to turn upside-down. Because MI5 have been watching him, and they think he’s just the man they need for a delicate mission.

One thing’s for sure: now he’s a long way East of Hounslow, Jay’s life will never be the same again.

With the edgy humour of Four Lions and the pulse-racing tension of Nomad, East of Hounslow is the first in a series of thrillers starring Jay Qasim.

I am not ashamed to admit that I judge books by their cover. I rarely pay attention to Facebook ads but about a week ago I saw an advert for a book called East of Hounslow and the cover immediately jumped out at me. Not long after reading the blurb, a short visit to Amazon had the book on my Kindle. At the time of writing this review, it’s just 99p on Kindle which is an absolute steal and I can’t think of anything better to spend 99p on.

I read a lot of thrillers and East of Hounslow is one of the best I have read in a long time. There’s so much I want to say about the story, so much in fact that I don’t even know where to start. Perhaps with the star of the show, its main character Jay Qasim. Jay is such a fascinating character, and completely endearing. A young Muslim just trying to find his place in life, he goes on one hell of a journey in this story. Others have said this is almost like a coming of age tale, and I have to agree. Jay is instantly likeable and through his eyes, we get an unfiltered and often unique look into the world of a young Muslim. It’s a truly thought-provoking book in places and that’s because of the sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-rending and always serious insights delivered by the character of Jay. I pictured two characters in the role of Jay, both of which I think would play this character brilliantly well. They were Rishi Nair and Himesh Patel. Rishi would be especially great as he was fantastic throughout the Hollyoaks race storyline last year and I think Himesh is a brilliant comedic actor. If this series was ever brought to the screen, both of these characters would be perfect for the series.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, but I will say that East of Hounslow has everything you could possibly want from a thriller and more. Jay finds himself reluctantly becoming an employee of MI5 who recruit him for a mission they believe him to be perfect for. The story is laced with humour throughout but that never detracts from the seriousness of the story being told. Humour aside, there’s always that undercurrent of danger the whole way through the story and as I started to near the events the whole book had built up to, I couldn’t read quick enough to discover how everything would end. I did work out one major development in the plot, during a conversation Jay has with his mum, but that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the story and in fact only made me want to tear through it even quicker. Jay wasn’t the only character that will leave a lasting impression on me in this story, and whilst I can’t go into detail about the ones that will, Khurrum Rahman does a brilliant job in really making you see things from every point of view and really understand the thought processes of some of the characters, especially those who deep down are good people, but are all too easily groomed and manipulated. I really cannot say too much more other than as well as such a strong storyline, the characterisation is also a real standout element in the book.

And so the judgment of a cover on Facebook led to me reading one of my favourite books so far this year. I will be recommending East of Hounslow everywhere that I can. Khurrum Rahman has created a truly fantastic character in Jay Qasim and has written one of the most exciting, thrilling and memorable stories that I have read in a long time. I simply cannot wait to continue with this series, as the closing pages of this book will mean every reader will be more than eager to pick up its sequel, Homegrown Hero, after one hell of a closing paragraph. If you are looking for a fresh, original thriller with a unique, endearing and memorable character with a gripping and unforgettable story, then East of Hounslow is the book for you.

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