Book review: The Abbey by Chris Culver

This book is in bookstores now.

This book started off as an e-book that could be purchased in the US for USD$0.99, and in places like Jamaica for USD$2.99. A bargain in anyone’s book. But much like that other massive e-book hit 50 Shades of Grey, this has been so successful in e-book format that it has now been published in paperback form.

I couldn’t find much about the author, but apparently this is his first published book, and what a jolly good read it is too. It is in the detective/thriller genre, great airplane/holiday read, with no great demands on the intellect. Unlike many of fiction’s hardened, bitter, over-philosophising-internal-analysing detective cops, Detective Ash Rashid really only thinks about his job and gets on with what has to be done. Which is just as well really because if he spent too much time fretting about the human condition, he would probably be dead.

No longer a homicide detective because all that death was getting to him, and now working in the Prosecutor’s Office, he finds himself drawn back to hunting for murderers when the body of his 15 year old niece is discovered. What follows is an absolute whirlwind of more murders, drugs manufacture, corrupt police, Russian crims, biological weapons, and at all times Rashid having to stay several steps ahead of those he is hunting and the various arms of the enforcement agencies. It gets very confusing, I have to say. And by about 2/3 of the way through I confess I had sort of lost my way with the various plot developments and connections to people involved.

In other reviews of this book, mostly American I may add, much has been made of the fact that Rashid is a practising Muslim. He prays regularly during the day, as does his wife and child, and talks fairly often about Islam and how he should be living his life. But really he comes across as just another hard playing fighting cop who needs more than a healthy dose of alcohol to get him through his days and nights.

Is the Muslim thing a gimmick as one review suggests? I don’t see it as a gimmick, as I am sure there are many law enforcement people who see themselves as committed Catholics or Protestants or whatever, also struggling with the requirements of their faith against the ghastliness of their jobs. But I do think that if the author does want to introduce a point of difference from your stock standard crime fighter, he needs to dig a little deeper into the character to make the religion a fundamental part of who Rashid is rather than just another person with conflict over how he wants to live his life with how he actually does.

Nevertheless I found it hard to put this novel down. A great page turner, perfect for a long flight or a lounger by the pool.

Reviewed by Felicity Murray

The Abbey
by Chris Culver
Published by Sphere
ISBN 9780751549119


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