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2012: London is hosting the Olympics and the East End is at the centre of the world. Yet surrounding the glamorous Olympic Park are some of the most deprived areas of the city. PI Lee Arnold and his assistant, Mumtaz Hakim, work in these streets, in a community fraught with tensions. When Arnold is hired by a controversial stand- up comedian, he already knows that her rout 2012: London is hosting the Olympics and the East End is at the centre of the world. Yet surrounding the glamorous Olympic Park are some of the most deprived areas of the city. PI Lee Arnold and his assistant, Mumtaz Hakim, work in these streets, in a community fraught with tensions. When Arnold is hired by a controversial stand- up comedian, he already knows that her routine could make her a target. Arnold and Hakim's new client is being followed. Are her fears justified? As they delve deeper, they discover that this investigation is more complex and sinister than a simple, straightforward case of stalking.


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2012: London is hosting the Olympics and the East End is at the centre of the world. Yet surrounding the glamorous Olympic Park are some of the most deprived areas of the city. PI Lee Arnold and his assistant, Mumtaz Hakim, work in these streets, in a community fraught with tensions. When Arnold is hired by a controversial stand- up comedian, he already knows that her rout 2012: London is hosting the Olympics and the East End is at the centre of the world. Yet surrounding the glamorous Olympic Park are some of the most deprived areas of the city. PI Lee Arnold and his assistant, Mumtaz Hakim, work in these streets, in a community fraught with tensions. When Arnold is hired by a controversial stand- up comedian, he already knows that her routine could make her a target. Arnold and Hakim's new client is being followed. Are her fears justified? As they delve deeper, they discover that this investigation is more complex and sinister than a simple, straightforward case of stalking.

30 review for A Private Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    A.

    Such a great book. I love Barbara Nadel Inspector Ikmen Istanbul-based books, and wasn't sure how I'd feel about the British setting with entirely different characters. I particularly liked Mumtaz, while Lee seems like kind've a stale/overly familiar (ex) police character (former alcoholic with a messed up family life and a child with whom he's got an awkward relationship), Mumtaz is what elevates the book for a 2.5 star book to a 4 star book. She was definitely surprising and almost reminded me Such a great book. I love Barbara Nadel Inspector Ikmen Istanbul-based books, and wasn't sure how I'd feel about the British setting with entirely different characters. I particularly liked Mumtaz, while Lee seems like kind've a stale/overly familiar (ex) police character (former alcoholic with a messed up family life and a child with whom he's got an awkward relationship), Mumtaz is what elevates the book for a 2.5 star book to a 4 star book. She was definitely surprising and almost reminded me of Robin in "The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling. There is something fresh about her, and also very feminine without the stereotypes. At times, though, it felt like it was dragging on - but then a twist would be thrown in and it kept me interested. As with most mysteries, you have to suspend disbelief on some level - things are coincidental, sometimes too coincidental, but that's what makes it a good read in many cases. Also - there were certain parts of the book that were a bit too graphic - like most scenes involving Martin Gold.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve Norris

    I really enjoyed this book. I wasn't sure at first about the narrative style and thought the authors may be playing the politically correct card in the character selection. But that wasn't the case at all. The narrative grew in confidence and style and you really were on the heroes side. There was a warmth and positivity that ran through what is essentially a tragic and dark story. So a low key crime story, which challenges some racial stereotypes, and leaves you feeling good about the characters a I really enjoyed this book. I wasn't sure at first about the narrative style and thought the authors may be playing the politically correct card in the character selection. But that wasn't the case at all. The narrative grew in confidence and style and you really were on the heroes side. There was a warmth and positivity that ran through what is essentially a tragic and dark story. So a low key crime story, which challenges some racial stereotypes, and leaves you feeling good about the characters and the story, even though the author left a slightly dark ending.... I will read another of this series

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I ordered this book, as I saw the name Barbara Nadel and I thought it was an Inspector Ikeman story, it was not. I was pleasantly surprised to find out this is a different series, and I managed to get book #1 in the series, so I was not constantly confused. Also a plus as I am a Londoner, and could well envision exactly where the story takes place. Lee Arnold is a detective, a prior London policeman, now with his own agency. He is broke, he does work hard for people and some people do not pay hi I ordered this book, as I saw the name Barbara Nadel and I thought it was an Inspector Ikeman story, it was not. I was pleasantly surprised to find out this is a different series, and I managed to get book #1 in the series, so I was not constantly confused. Also a plus as I am a Londoner, and could well envision exactly where the story takes place. Lee Arnold is a detective, a prior London policeman, now with his own agency. He is broke, he does work hard for people and some people do not pay him. This is a problem, he has bills he needs to pay. He is divorced and lives alone. He has a sick mother, and an alcoholic brother, who is constantly giving his mother and Lee a lot of grief. Mr. Arnold has recently hired a new Office Manager/Detective in Training. He does not pay a lot, and his office needs upgrading, in everything. His new assistant is a lovely young Asian lady by the name of Mrs. M. Hakim. She is a recent widow trying to raise her step-daughter after her husband has been murdered. Mrs. Hakim is extremely hard up, her husband has left many debts, and she is doing her best to raise her step-daughter, a teenager, who is about to bring her a lot of grief. All the time she is dealing with holding her own family off, who are trying to get her married again to a nice Muslim Man. The last "nice Muslim Man" they married her to, was an Evil Basket, and she is daily finding out more terrible things about him. Her life and step-daughters was hell, while she was married to him. Mrs. Hakim brings in new clients from the Asian community, and while learning to be a detective, nearly gets herself killed. A new client, a prior commedian, brings them grief, and pain, as well as putting herself in constant danger. We are introduced to Vi, a London cop, who has a soft spot for Lee, and also becomes fond of Mrs. Hakim and her daughter. Good story, was not so happy with the ending, and did miss the sheet in the front of the book, that tells who is who in all the characters. I normally read that first. Disappointed it was not there. The next book is called An Act of Kindness. Think I will go and order it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alma Marta

    This was the first Barbara Nadel book I’ve read and it won’t be the last. All the characters had a history that ran with them throughout the novel and all had to make harsh decisions and juggle work and private life. I loved that the PI’s were not only a man and woman but different nationalities and religion. This threw a lot of issues in to the mix as well as having to deal with racist comments from various factions. I really liked Mumtaz Hakim, a single Muslim mum who’s abusive husband had been This was the first Barbara Nadel book I’ve read and it won’t be the last. All the characters had a history that ran with them throughout the novel and all had to make harsh decisions and juggle work and private life. I loved that the PI’s were not only a man and woman but different nationalities and religion. This threw a lot of issues in to the mix as well as having to deal with racist comments from various factions. I really liked Mumtaz Hakim, a single Muslim mum who’s abusive husband had been murdered and had left her and her stepdaughter, who she now had to support, with massive debts to be paid back to unscrupulous people. Lee Arnold, on the other hand, is a renounced Catholic and now considers all religions a load of old mumbo jumbo, so he has to tread carefully around Mumtaz who is his new assistant. The plot is quite easy to follow and although there are many characters they are well put together even though there are 3 cases running alongside each other. We have ‘the Olympic Flasher’, the killing of a teenage youth by his best friend and a well known comedienne who believes she is being stalked and turns to the church for help. Eventually all is revealed and are connected by simple threads.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    An absolutely cracking start to the Hakim and Arnold series with Barbara Nadel firing on all cylinders and the introduction to her new pairing, ex-policeman Lee Arnold and his assistant, an early thirties headscarf wearing Muslim window in Mumtaz Hakim. An original East End boy Lee is seeking to establish his private investigations business and in need of an assistant and occasional secretary. Lee hires Mumtaz, impressed by her psychology degree and also somewhat intrigued, well aware that he is An absolutely cracking start to the Hakim and Arnold series with Barbara Nadel firing on all cylinders and the introduction to her new pairing, ex-policeman Lee Arnold and his assistant, an early thirties headscarf wearing Muslim window in Mumtaz Hakim. An original East End boy Lee is seeking to establish his private investigations business and in need of an assistant and occasional secretary. Lee hires Mumtaz, impressed by her psychology degree and also somewhat intrigued, well aware that he is taking a risk. Despite wearing a headscarf, Mumtaz is a thoroughly modern woman, long established in the local Bangladeshi community and trying to make a new life for herself and sixteen-year old step-daughter, Shazia. Things are far from easy for Mumtaz following the murder of her husband, the debts that he has left hanging over her head and her often interfering parents eager to see their daughter married off. When Lee is approached by Maria Peters, a notorious 1980s comedian remembered for her "mouth like a sewer", she raises concerns that she is being followed and someone has access to her home. Given that she is trying to revive her career following the death of her husband she might seem a likely target for vigilantes opposed to her politically incorrect comedy, but her own concerns that she might be imagining things alert Lee to her fragile mental state. Arnold agrees to a 24/7 surveillance operation and brings the psychology knowledge of Mumtaz into play as they dig deeper into Maria's personal life. When Mumtaz suspects that Maria is hiding something and the full extent of her connections to a local "happy-clappy" church and some remarkably shifty friends emerges, it is time to alert the police. As the duo become increasingly concerned that Pastor Paul Grint may not have Maria's best intentions at heart they threaten to open up a can of worms with the revelations they uncover. Meanwhile at Forest Gate station DI Vi Collins has her superiors on her back as a flasher hanging around the Olympic Park is one spectacle that the great and the good are eager to stamp out before the cameras arrive for London 2012! Each and everyone of Nadel's characters is well fleshed out, especially jaded DI Vi Collins, with her feisty attitude and her take no prisoners attitude. Vi knows Lee of old and as the investigations cross into each others territory she brings much to the novel and forges a genuine bond with Mumtaz. The extended family of Mumtaz also works well and despite their wish for a suitable husband to support Mumtaz, her father, Baharat, is a refreshingly modern voice, most notably for his vocal incomprehension of the extremists who are to blame for fuelling much of the rising Islamophobia within the community. Nadel also considers how the headscarf that Mumtaz wears provokes differing reactions in society, from the BNP militants, to the born and bred East Londoners down to how the men within her own culture treat her. Pretty soon Mumtaz proves her worth and the willingness of the Muslim women to trust her attracts a new demographic to the agency and she soon has her own cases, with the community valuing her discretion and understanding of the religious implications that many of their situations involve. Nadel manages to provide a real social context to this novel as she weaves in the build up to Stratford hosting the Olympics in 2012. As money is poured into funding a glamorous stadium the realities for the majority of the community are much starker and the "inflated importance" that the event has achieved is a frequent gripe among the characters. Not only does Nadel draw in the Olympic Games, she makes reference to the London riots and the rise of Islamphobia in the wake of 9/11 and the introduction of anti-terrorism laws. Nadel also bravely raises the investigative difficulties when the practices of some other cultures begin to show signs of making inroads in the UK, most specifically with her treatment of witchcraft, and her honestly and colour on a modern East End is admirable. Nobody does the East End better than Nadel as she paints a portrait of a changing London, never seeking to preach, just presenting things as they are and recognising that within every culture, race and religion you get "wrong un's". A timely and insightful novel and a reminder than there is a much darker side to unquestioning faith, whatever the religion. No topic is off limits and her characters tell it like it is, making for a vibrant new series full of local colour and makes for an authentically honest portrait of London. Outstanding, original and highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kookaburra

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 3.5.....rounded down after further consideration but this book makes you think…possibly deeply, even though it’s disturbing and depressing. The familial, cultural, religious and psychological dilemmas within each of the three parts and Epilogue creates tension and disharmony throughout. It addresses contemporary issues, none more-so than human rights. Readers may come to this conclusion over time and after finishing the book…a few days later one may recall aspects and think about events and char 3.5.....rounded down after further consideration but this book makes you think…possibly deeply, even though it’s disturbing and depressing. The familial, cultural, religious and psychological dilemmas within each of the three parts and Epilogue creates tension and disharmony throughout. It addresses contemporary issues, none more-so than human rights. Readers may come to this conclusion over time and after finishing the book…a few days later one may recall aspects and think about events and characters further. Therefore, if this is what the book set out to do then it has succeeded. But it's not an enjoyable read as such. However, you will need to concentrate in Part 1… very carefully… in order to understand the plot process first, with its short, rapidly changing scenes and setting, the myriad of unusually named characters, mostly foreign, the complexity of what actually is happening in each sub-plot and where, in fact it might be leading! I was about to give up but persevered when I reached Part 2. In the end the plot moved forward with, albeit, too many coincidental collisions of character/setting, in and around the area of the Olympic site in London, app 2011-12. For example, with Sita, late in the plot, who views the face of the public flasher only to realise that he, Aziz, had once been her next door neighbour… and who was also the man lined up as reputable marriage-material to Mumtaz. The setting and environment was, for those readers not accustomed to this pressurised city-living, was stifling. Being crammed within those “poorest and crime-ridden streets” had a foreboding, degenerative and sinister atmosphere penetrating the plot as you read. Though occasionally there’s a leafy-green street where Maria, the disturbed comedian lives… but yes, once more, coincidences of this neighbourhood are seen. As around the corner live the two protagonists, the investigating team of Lee Arnold and Mumtaz Hakim, not too far apart in fact. And next door to Mumtaz, most conveniently so, is the old “public wanker” Martin Gold who sickeningly lures her step-daughter Shazia into his masturbatory web. A disturbing sub-plot indeed! There’s the Investigating office nearby and other charismatic churches in the vicinity with their faux leaders. The aura of these churches disintegrate in authenticity from the start, like the run-down buildings they worship in and of course, as we discover, the preachers running them in the name of God. The reader feels trapped in much the same way as wealthy Maria…it’s psychological trauma wrangled with lies and deceit, preying, not praying, on gullible victims. And money doesn’t buy happiness! And all of this is going on within the world-stage of Olympia…what the cameras won’t show…a careful addition to the plot puts it well into a present day setting. What was intriguing but rather frightening was the expansive and problematic concerns of the immigrants and their differing religious ‘beliefs’ in such a highly populated area of London which verged chaotically into violence and death, especially of the young lad Jacob supposedly over his ‘mobile’ phone. That it was linked to possible witchcraft or protecting the church leader, it seems money and blackmail were involved; plus the connection to Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe, which added another concerning and vindictive level of abuse and threats. Touching on this political power perhaps tells more about why these immigrants are in the situation they are but embroiled within a foreign city lifestyle adds to the complexities of 21st century London. It is a confronting reality that the author plots but it reflects the cultural confusion and persistent puzzle that the police must encounter on a daily basis in places like London where immigrants try to survive but live amidst fears of threats from their own via cultural and religious beliefs etc. The conmen seem to thrive on this; Paul Grint in particular and the other two leaders of these ‘happy-clappy’ churches. Beliefs run strong in this plot especially with Mumtaz’s family’s views on marriage. That her mother still sees this as the most important aspect, becoming stressed that her 30+ daughter, recently widowed, is still single, imbues this cultural difference further. That her dead husband Ahmed had abused both Mumtaz and his daughter is a shocking revelation and, as we discover later, the next ‘arranged’ marriage to Aziz Choudery that her mother attempts to pull-off, is also cringe-worthy as he turns out to be the Olympic flasher! Enough to leave the Muslim faith perhaps? But Mumtaz wears her burqa still and takes it off to put on an anonymous face mask, so to speak, when visiting Maria’s Pentecostal Church of Fire. What a fake fire of faith that church started in this plot! And the biggest puzzle of course was Maria and her past. Her character was possibly the most twisted and one whose life you felt frightened for, as much as she herself felt. From the start the reader understands there is something not right with both Maria and her church that ironically she protected til the end, and especially Betty her so-called friend. That the book began with diabolically crass comedic jokes by Maria on stage in resurrecting her past career, drew you in (was it necessary?) but ended in her tragic downfall, turning away from the stage and towards God, as she believed throughout, was anything but humorous and witty. Her character disintegrates to a disturbing level of victimisation with inhumane bullying in effect, where non-christian attitudes thrive; with coercive pill-popping, doses of delirium, fear-mongering and a guilt-ridden abortion termed as ‘murder’ by the church some 30+ years prior push Maria to her limits. How tragic that it occurred in a toilet which also sadly connects to the ‘sewer-mouth’ reputation Maria had as a comedian. In fact it is the church leaders that are the epitome of having a 'sewer mouth'! That her Catholic upbringing is brought into this sickening plot of faux-faith beliefs with a family priest having raped her, resulting in Maria’s pregnancy as a young girl, further adds to the anti-church/religion plot intensity. It also addresses many contemporary truths about the traditional churches and their priestly abuse of children. The author takes aim with these ghastly crimes and pulls the reader into reconsidering one’s own faith… if they haven’t already begun to feel some kind of paralysis to pulpit preaching in this plot already. Hypocrisy is not new but abuse by priests in power over their parishioners in the collective church or intimately and secretly, using God as the weapon, is what sickens the spirit….leading to confused minds and bodies. It’s psychological warfare at its best! That Maria intends to suicide in her 15min timeframe between checks, having sought advice from another inmate, is the tragic crime in this ultimate psychological plot. A lost soul who thinks she is being delivered to God and who ironically writes a note absolving Paul and Betty from any wrong-doing, thus absolving them from criminal intent or a life in prison, she also leaves the church 10million! But here is the key to the crime between the so-called church leaders who were overheard scheming this money from their victim. Will they be arrested? Did Maria have any idea she was a pawn? It could be that Maria may have had some sane logic in this, wanting to be with her deceased husband and deeply grieved without professional help. She turned to the wrong people who saw a crack and made it into a fissure. But it still tells more about the extent of this planned psychological drama, aptly explained to Mumtaz by her old uni-friend (conveniently they both studied psychology), the well-known magician, Mark, at the end. (This character could well be fake too and something irks beneath his facade I felt but that's probably in another plot to come! This is a con-man who understands con-men) Sadly, Maria was a victim through and through and it was evident right from the start….whether she thought she was being watched or not, she self-abused with pills, coerced by bad-girl Betty, who was no doubt poisoned by preacher Paul who she was totally infatuated with…Betty too was the victim. A network of bullying and abuse from the top down. That it was also men who were the abusers in this plot, husbands, old men and preachers alike, with females as victims…Shazia, Mumtaz, Maria, Sita…enforces the gender factor fiercely. It is subtle at first, because male children are victims also, but then it escalates to a shocking realisation along the way. But was Paul a victim too of another more brutish pastor? Females though, begin to seek Mumtaz's assistance as she is seen as a strong Muslim investigator....her character will develop well and with much interest in future books I hope. The author created a character in the magician Mark which may also be a sign that possibly this is what the charismatic churches are also doing, being magicians of a sort but through religion, in a more dangerous way using money and power to lure. Therefore the author, through a psychology trained magician, summed up the situation of this plot and the investigation quite professionally, stating that Pastor Paul Grint was being… “an amateur psychologist, that’s what conmen are…it was subliminal…he pushed Maria’s latitude of acceptance until she was believing that God was either putting stuff into her house or making her do it herself—driving her mad. God was stalking her.” How true! And how potent that people can use His name to perpetrate the lives of others and cause havoc! And Betty was one. Being childless, her jealousy and hatred of Maria, along with a love for her leader Paul, gave the other psychological twist in this perplexing plot. Her assistance of Maria’s first so-called suicide at home when Mumtaz also fell victim to Betty’s beast within, was a high-octane scene indeed; a hair-grabbing, eye-scratching bout between two females. Betty didn’t back down and continued forcing pills into Maria, urged on by her own self-inflated love for a charismatic pastor. That Maria spewed up her pills in Mumtaz’s veiled face is shocking the first time but laughable when it occurs the second time. Not again? Is this then not the ‘sewer-mouth’ of the church at work? And Mumtaz arrived in time, in another coincidental and convenient manner, through a back alley, to save Maria! But it was Lee’s entrance soon after, on the eleventh hour, that had me dumb-founded; again, way too convenient, and especially after meeting up with an old-muslim friend in the lane, in the middle of the night, who just happened to see Mumtaz a half hour prior! Is the author trying to pull all threads together here at the end in desperation of concluding this plot? Lee’s character wasn’t so interesting, perhaps dull and lifeless in comparison to the strength of Mumtaz and her secrecy shrouded by her veil, but his life lingered in limbo having been an ex-cop, ex-alcoholic and divorced with a child. Seems this tired characterisation is way too common in these crime plots! Indeed Lee languished without love…though Mumtaz seems to give him strong feelings through her veil. His liaison with a dim-witted young Essex girl caused angst when she returned to his flat but when DI Vi Collins turns up after 1am, he finds comfort once more, having once had a liaison together many years prior. But his ugly, piss-sodden, drunken and ailing brother Roy is a character of no remorse; a disease that seems to cling to Lee, pulling him downward with worry. Another disintegrating family sub-plot to depress you. Roy may have given him grief with his mother, as did his drunk father when alive, but Roy’s information on Grint helped the investigator and the plot…oh gosh, by now it is too unbelievably coincidental! Roy just happens to go to the church of fire and is in the right place at the right time to overhear the tense conversation between two leaders under suspicion?! And knows to go to his brother over this? My points are heading downwards by now on this plot. But there are some redeeming factors. Interestingly, the Tottenham riots came into play to add to the dearth of destruction, crime and bent minds. Terrorism was courted amidst the Islamophobia of this century but of note was the strength of Mumtaz’s father Baharat who speaks against those extremists of faith. Exorcism was touched on but being ‘delivered’ through testimony and for the presumptuous saving by God, under a mystic, not spiritual, mass-mania concert of delirium in rhythmic words, song, hailing, wailing and imagery etc, spikes the psychological peppering of the plot further. That they are mostly poor parishioners, other than Maria, underprivileged and poisoned by a pastor, is plausible and palpable. It is a terrifying truth that people are so gullible, puppets and victims in the name of God. There is evil within these do-gooder’s and it comes at a price in the plot….for Maria, it was her life. Thought-provoking and quite well-written it was adequately suspenseful but with too many characters and a rapidity of scenes early on. It served to establish the plot but it also served to confuse readers with way too many coincidences along the journey which became irritating and distracting. Though deliberate on the author’s part, it was not the best side of London life; quite depressing really, especially with its traumatic tale of a tense and twisted psychology of faith. But it is here that I wavered between 3-3.5. Ostensibly, if anything, it makes you question belief systems, people of faith and culture and the whole expression of church and God in one’s own life. This book provides a negative side to most of that and the reader wonders whether the author has witnessed such events or scenarios in her own life to bring it bubbling to the surface and infusing the plot to such a degree. I’m not sure future plots in the same vein would hold a reader’s ongoing attention as it dragged on at times. 3.5*

  7. 4 out of 5

    Otherwyrld

    A Private Business is the first in a new series by Barbara Nadel, set in the modern-day East End of London. Private detective Lee Arnold hires Muslim widow Mumtaz Hakim to be his assistant, and they soon find themselves embroiled in a sinister case involving a former female stand-up comedienne who has found God. While there is nothing particularly new or different about Lee Arnold (I think this is the third divorced, alcoholic (ex)cop character story I've read this year), Mumtaz does stand out as A Private Business is the first in a new series by Barbara Nadel, set in the modern-day East End of London. Private detective Lee Arnold hires Muslim widow Mumtaz Hakim to be his assistant, and they soon find themselves embroiled in a sinister case involving a former female stand-up comedienne who has found God. While there is nothing particularly new or different about Lee Arnold (I think this is the third divorced, alcoholic (ex)cop character story I've read this year), Mumtaz does stand out as being a bit different. I have no idea whether she is portrayed accurately, but then I wouldn't know as I don't generally interact with my Muslim neighbours, despite living exactly in the area where this novel is set. I'm not sure if this was the intention, but if such a book as this can shed even the tiniest bit of light on the lives of a much misunderstood group of people, then it would be a major achievement, and the author deserves praise for that. There was perhaps a few too many supporting characters with their own sub-plots in this story, which served to muddy the waters a bit too much. Characters were often introduced, but little was made of them - perhaps if they are reoccurring in future stories then this might make more sense. Otherwise, there is quite a lot in the story about the power of faith, and how it can both used and abused by people in positions of power. As an atheist I often find belief hard to understand, but the author makes good use of her background in psychology to provide good explanations as to how and why belief patterns develop, and how beliefs can become twisted by exploitative people. In the end, this was a good start to the series, with an interesting epilogue that points us towards likely events in the next story. While it didn't quite make 4 stars, it was more of a high 3 1/2 stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hayley Crandell

    Started this last night. God I love Quercus Crime. Centres around an ex-detective, now Private Detective, and his assistant who happens to be a Bangladeshi Muslim. I loved every aspect of this book - it's the start of a series, and Nadel has set up the protagonists beautifully. I can't wait for the next one. It's not at all preachy, but the author has just completely integrated all the characters in their melting pot suburb really well, while gently educating the reader. LOVED IT. Started this last night. God I love Quercus Crime. Centres around an ex-detective, now Private Detective, and his assistant who happens to be a Bangladeshi Muslim. I loved every aspect of this book - it's the start of a series, and Nadel has set up the protagonists beautifully. I can't wait for the next one. It's not at all preachy, but the author has just completely integrated all the characters in their melting pot suburb really well, while gently educating the reader. LOVED IT.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Quentin

    Decent, most decent. An unusual pairing and a pleasantly convoluted storyline.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    This is the first in a series of crime novels set in East London (my home territory for the last 35 years). The year is 2011; vast parts of the area are being razed and redeveloped for the 2012 Olympics. And then along come serious riots, starting in Tottenham and spreading nationally, but with particular violence in Hackney and some other parts of London. Nadel is good at depicting the kinds of people who live in East London and the Essex border today - no more stereotyped Cockneys with their co This is the first in a series of crime novels set in East London (my home territory for the last 35 years). The year is 2011; vast parts of the area are being razed and redeveloped for the 2012 Olympics. And then along come serious riots, starting in Tottenham and spreading nationally, but with particular violence in Hackney and some other parts of London. Nadel is good at depicting the kinds of people who live in East London and the Essex border today - no more stereotyped Cockneys with their comical speech! Mumtaz Hakim, one of the protagonists, is a Bangladeshi Muslim woman who wears a veil; Lee Arnold and DI Vi Collins are white native locals. Evangelical Christian churches, both white and Zimbabwean, feature in the plot. Arnold, an ex-policeman turned private eye is the usual recovering alcoholic with a no-good brother and a put-upon mother, as well as an outspoken mynah bird. Hakim, who comes to work for him, has recently lost her husband in a violent killing and is raising a troubled teenaged stepdaughter. Into their agency and lives comes a female stand-up comic, retired for some years but now trying to restart her career. Alas, she suspects that she is being watched perhaps stalked. The writing isn't brilliant, and untangling all the strands at the end takes too long, but it works well enough as a diversion.

  11. 4 out of 5

    margaret chalmers

    Intriguing. I have to apologise. I did not do this story justice as I did not read it from word to word, line to line as I usually do. Me Basel is a brilliant writer and I thought the idea of combining a white irreligious East End private investigator with a widowed Muslim woman in partnership was brilliant. However the overall story is so downbeat with every character having a miserable history the cumulative affect got too much for me. I started to feel depressed. Perhaps it is the Covid influe Intriguing. I have to apologise. I did not do this story justice as I did not read it from word to word, line to line as I usually do. Me Basel is a brilliant writer and I thought the idea of combining a white irreligious East End private investigator with a widowed Muslim woman in partnership was brilliant. However the overall story is so downbeat with every character having a miserable history the cumulative affect got too much for me. I started to feel depressed. Perhaps it is the Covid influence? But no, I think not. Just to much sadness and ugly human behaviour. Only one tiny moment of joy near the end but a promise of more pain to follow. I just couldn't take it. Good writing but be warned. This is a deeply sad tale.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lorne Strachan

    The book is well enough written but I just couldn't get into it. I'm not sure why. It's the story of a woman who became a stand-up comedian and then collapses on stage and subsequently gets involved with a dodgy church that's after her money. The two private detectives and some police officers are involved and lots of things happen. There's kind of surprise turn at the end and it's credible enough but it just didn't click with me. I may try another some time in the future or some of Barbara Nade The book is well enough written but I just couldn't get into it. I'm not sure why. It's the story of a woman who became a stand-up comedian and then collapses on stage and subsequently gets involved with a dodgy church that's after her money. The two private detectives and some police officers are involved and lots of things happen. There's kind of surprise turn at the end and it's credible enough but it just didn't click with me. I may try another some time in the future or some of Barbara Nadel's other books that are not part of this series.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Miss R Elliott

    Excellent new series I love these new characters. The plot adds more and more clues and slowly reveals more and more secrets and lies, as the endings lead you further still, into book 2!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    WR

    Listened to the audiobook version. Like many other reviewers, I enjoyed Mumtaz more than Arnold. But I still prefer Ikmen and the Istanbul setting!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kym Hamer

    I can't say what it was about this novel that didn't have me rank it more than 3-stars. It was okay: likeable enough but I found it difficult to stay interested. I can't say what it was about this novel that didn't have me rank it more than 3-stars. It was okay: likeable enough but I found it difficult to stay interested.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Miki Jacobs

    A nice easy read, good story it so sure about the ending.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    A usual good one from Barbara Nadel. I liked Arnold and I like Hakim even more . But neither, did I love like I love Inspector Ikmen. But what an infuriatingly good ending.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rob Kitchin

    The real strengths of A Private Business is the characterisation, contextualisation and social interplay between characters. Nadel has created four strong lead characters in former cop, Lee, Muslim widow, Mumtaz, divorced and world weary cop, Vi, and former alternative comedienne, Maria Peters. The plot focuses as much on their own lives and troubles, and the various forces shaping them, as it does the investigation, and this is a definite plus rather than a distraction. They are genuinely inter The real strengths of A Private Business is the characterisation, contextualisation and social interplay between characters. Nadel has created four strong lead characters in former cop, Lee, Muslim widow, Mumtaz, divorced and world weary cop, Vi, and former alternative comedienne, Maria Peters. The plot focuses as much on their own lives and troubles, and the various forces shaping them, as it does the investigation, and this is a definite plus rather than a distraction. They are genuinely interesting characters with fleshed out back stories and social networks. The story itself is relatively straightforward and its clear from very early on what is happening; it’s more a case of how it unfolds and resolves than a puzzle. My impression on finishing the story was that it would be perfect for a television adaptation. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

  19. 4 out of 5

    June

    I wanted to like this..I adore Cetin Ikmen and Barbara Nadel's other characters in her Istanbul novels. I'm a headscarf wearing muslim woman like Mumtaz , (half of Nadel's new Private Eye team.)and there aren't many characters I can identify with in mainstream fiction ,so that aspect of this attracted me too.I don't know what I expected, but I just found it a bit too 'grubby'..the flasher, the foul mouthed comedian, the pervy neighbour.. Not my cup of tea.I think the reason I like the books set I wanted to like this..I adore Cetin Ikmen and Barbara Nadel's other characters in her Istanbul novels. I'm a headscarf wearing muslim woman like Mumtaz , (half of Nadel's new Private Eye team.)and there aren't many characters I can identify with in mainstream fiction ,so that aspect of this attracted me too.I don't know what I expected, but I just found it a bit too 'grubby'..the flasher, the foul mouthed comedian, the pervy neighbour.. Not my cup of tea.I think the reason I like the books set in Turkey is the slight exoticism they have simply because they are set in a different country and culture. This, however, was a bit to close to home for my taste..

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eugenia

    Some dangling modifiers but I liked the plot and premise and characters enough to forgive them -- private detective and ex-copper Lee Arnold is a white lifelong East Ender, and his assistant Mumtaz Hakim is a headscarved British Pakistani Muslim widow with a stroppy teenaged stepdaughter. This one is set in East London around the Olympic Stadium in 2012 and has the feel of inside knowledge to it -- I'll read more of these. Some dangling modifiers but I liked the plot and premise and characters enough to forgive them -- private detective and ex-copper Lee Arnold is a white lifelong East Ender, and his assistant Mumtaz Hakim is a headscarved British Pakistani Muslim widow with a stroppy teenaged stepdaughter. This one is set in East London around the Olympic Stadium in 2012 and has the feel of inside knowledge to it -- I'll read more of these.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cornelia Boldyreff

    This is the first book in Barbara Nadel's Hakim and Aronld Mystery series. It's set in East London at the time leading up to the 2012 Olypics. My book group is reading it on my recommendation, so I hope they enjoy it as much as I did. This is the first book in Barbara Nadel's Hakim and Aronld Mystery series. It's set in East London at the time leading up to the 2012 Olypics. My book group is reading it on my recommendation, so I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Audrey Chong

    After Istanbul, Detroit seems rather dull. Still a good read but I am a huge fan of Ikmen and his team.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ann Tonks

    Lots of layers - social, religious, community - to this thriller featuring Lee Arnold and Mumtaz Hakim and their resptective families. A good read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carole Tyrrell

    For review please see: www.shotsmag.co.uk/bookreviews. For review please see: www.shotsmag.co.uk/bookreviews.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Wanted to love it, but it was slow... Hoping the next one is better!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Erickson

    a very good mystery with a lot about race problems with Indians and brits with a twist at the end

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Wilson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Donna

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gillian Black

  30. 4 out of 5

    Thelace Bee

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