The Blood Divide by A. A. Dhand reviewed

The Blood Divide Book Cover The Blood Divide
A. A. Dhand
Random House UK, Transworld Publishers
June 24, 2021

The last thing Jack Baxi expected when a detective rang his doorbell in the middle of the night was that he'd be tortured and left for dead, with a young woman he's never met before.

Now, running for their lives, Jack and Aisha frantically try to discover why the detective was so convinced they both have information on a missing person. Jack is a Sikh corner shopkeeper with a criminal record. Aisha is a Muslim medical student from a wealthy family. What could possibly connect them?

Their desperate hunt for answers will take them on a perilous journey, from the sprawling underground markets and dangerous red-light district of Delhi all the way to the most militarized zone in India.

But little do they know, a dangerous organisation is watching their every move - and they'll do whatever it takes to stop Jack and Aisha learning the truth . . .

The Blood Divide by A. A. Dhand

Jack Baxi is a shady corner shop owner in Bradford. He is woken in the middle of the night by a policeman knocking on his door. He is tortured and left for dead. When he comes round he is tied up and there is a young woman he has never met before with him. Jack and Aisha manage to escape and run for their lives. What both of them want to know is why a policeman neither of them know has tortured them both and tried to kill them.

The Blood Divide actually starts via a prologue in the Punjab in 1947. I am aware that “partition” of India took place then and did have that in mind while reading this. The prologue is as brief as it is dark. The story then moves to Jack and 2019. It follows Jack and Aisha’s attempts to try and find out what exactly is behind the attacks on them. To do so they need to travel and India is the most likely destination – what does lie in the past?

I come to this book as a real fan of AA Dhand’s “Harry Virdee” books. This one does have aspects in common with that series while being very different in some ways. The tensions between Muslim and Sikh are a facet of this story. This book has that very pacey feel of the other books. I often found myself thinking “I’ll just read one more chapter” and then reading three! The other real commonality to me is the darkness. The Harry Virdee are dark but this one takes darkness to another level.

I found both Jack and Aisha very powerful characters and largely convincing given the story I guess. Honourable mention must go to Cruise too, I enjoyed his presence in this. It provided some light in an otherwise dark picture. I can certainly say I’m glad I read The Blood Divide. Equally I’m sure the many fans of the “Harry” books want to read this. It is a standalone book anyway but I would probably suggest newcomers might go for the first Virdee book for a preference.

Looking back on it I was caught up in this completely however I’m not sure I was fully convinced. For the story to work this probably had to be a less than easy read. I think that the overall story may not work as well as the author intended for some people. The pace and power are there in abundance – Dhand is an excellent writer. I just think that maybe this was a little too dark. I will certainly continue to read any future books by this author.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review