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Synopsis from goodreads
A forbidden love draws the Mafia into fighting Radical Islam
An affair between Marlon, a politically correct history teacher, and Jamila Khan, his young student, must be kept a secret. Jamila works covertly toward liberating women oppressed by radical Islamism.
As Marlon awakens to the dark underbelly of orthodox Islam, a turn of events leads to Marlon becoming a fugitive charged with murder. Jamila’s testimony can free him, but her eyewitness account could incur a death fatwa from the Islamic orthodoxy. Marlon won’t let her risk herself.
Hunted by Scotland Yard, and betrayed by England, Marlon must now work with the men he once loathed—his Sicilian uncles. Jamila’s life, and his, depend on it.
A Sharia London by Vinay Kolhatkar is like nothing that I have ever read before. I picked this book mainly because of the beautiful cover. I loved the image of the partially-veiled woman with the London Bridge in the foreground. I was also intrigued by the synopsis because of my interest in the subject of radicalization.
The book is very well paced. The action and drama starts right at the beginning. At first, Marlon and Jamila just seem like any other regular people as they interact during a class. However, soon their worlds collide outside the class and their lives are thrown into turmoil as it becomes a fight to stay alive.
The main theme of this book is radicalization and religious extremism. It covers different aspects such as homosexuality, religious fanaticism (jihad in this case), gender roles within religion and also liberalization. Other themes include revenge where most of the action lies. At the background is the love story between two very unlikely individuals thrown together by the chaos in their lives.
The main setting of this story is London. River Thames and the London Bridge feature predominantly in the narrative. I liked this aspect because I haven’t read any book set in London. The setting added to the beauty of the narrative. Events taking place on the bridge were tragic and quite haunting. There is a particular description that has stayed with me about the river being unforgiving. Part of the story is also set in Sicily, Italy and finally in India. I really enjoyed the diversity of the settings bringing together so many different worlds and cultures.
The characters of the book are well developed and likeable. The male protagonist starts off as a tormented, lost soul who eventually finds his footing and a purpose for his life. Jamila is a wonderful female protagonist. She is strong, defiant and quite brave. I just wish that the author would have given us a bit more information on how she ended up that way. Her family background is so strict that it is hard to imagine how she ended up finding her own voice.
The story is action packed. There are so many twists that occur throughout the narrative. Every time I thought that it was over, something new came up and the action started again. In spite of the heavy themes, A Sharia London by Vinay Kolhatkar is actually an enjoyable and captivating read. It so fast paced that I found myself struggling to put it down. The book is not political and the author definitely does not try to force any ideologies on readers so don’t shy away from reading it due to the themes.
I recommend this book to all fans of thrillers. If you are looking for something different then you should definitely pick this one. It does address topics that not most people write about. However, I think it is only fair to warn you that the book is also a bit graphic. There are scenes which maybe a tough read for some people. Nevertheless, this is just one of those books that you should definitely check out for yourself.
About the Book