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Reviewed by Caitlyn Lynch for Readers' Favorite
Kismet is a political action thriller with more than a hint of the police procedural about it. The story follows Edmund Lafitte, a British Member of Parliament, drawn almost incidentally into the activities of Islamic State in the UK when he tries to help a constituent whose journalist son has been kidnapped in Syria. His activities on behalf of the kidnapped man draw the attention of a frightened Muslim businessman being forced to pay ‘protection money’ to a radical imam preaching sedition from his mosque in Donfield, a fictional Yorkshire city which I assume is meant to be an amalgam of Doncaster and Sheffield. When the Muslim businessman is found brutally beheaded within a day of meeting Edmund, the only thing found on him is Edmund’s business card, tucked into his pocket. Whether he likes it or not, Edmund is now involved. Consulting with Detective Inspector Royce, the police officer assigned to the case, the pair is determined to get to the truth and expose the activities of radical Islamists in the UK. The story follows the parallel paths of the two men, Edmund in London and Royce in Yorkshire, as they try to painstakingly untangle the web of lies and terror… before Edmund becomes IS’s next victim.
Kismet is an enthralling read full of gripping drama and high action moments. It feels incredibly real, especially given recent events in the UK. Chris Calder knows his topic, and obviously the atmosphere in the northern cities, well; I could almost picture the weary terraces of Sheffield in my mind, the ethnic shops lining Bradford’s streets, the wariness that pervades the atmosphere as people from many different cultures try to live side by side. Despite the subject matter, Muslims are not demonised in the book, which I was half-afraid of going in. It is made clear by the actions of several characters that radical Islam is not the way of life that most Muslims seek, and the author’s respect for the culture clearly shows through. The protagonists are well-drawn and not caricatures; I found Edmund very sympathetic and was rooting for him throughout the story, as well as the beleaguered police detectives doing their best in difficult circumstances where witnesses were terrified into silence.
Kismet is not only a great thriller, it is a fascinating examination of the difficulties plaguing many European countries struggling to assimilate their recent intake of refugees and migrants, and balance the security of their citizens with the cultural changes brought by newcomers, especially since not all those newcomers have the purest of intentions. The story had plenty of twists and turns, along with some intriguing reminders that not everything is black and white in terms of good and evil; there are plenty of moral shades of grey out there. I highly recommend Kismet to anyone who enjoys a political thriller or a good police procedural!