Baghdad, November 2003. The occupation forces have disbanded the army and there is no police on the streets of Iraq. Inspector Muhsin al-Khafaji is a mid-level Iraqi cop who deserted his post back in April. Captured by the Americans and imprisoned in Abu Ghraib, Khafaji is offered one way out, helping the authorities rebuild the Iraqi Police Services. But it’s only after US forces take his daughter Mrouj that he figures out a way to make his surrender palatable, and even rewarding. Soon, he is investigating the disappearance of young translators working for the US Army.
Khafaji finds himself a collaborator living in a volatile world of shifting alliances and new warlords. Luckily for him, the old consolations of whiskey and love poetry can sometimes still work their magic in the new “liberated” Iraq.
Praise for Baghdad Central
‘Powerful and authentic, Baghdad Central is a perilous journey through the dark maelstrom of wartime Iraq that will make you want to reach for a flak jacket… even as you’re marvelling at its abiding humanity.’ Dan Fesperman, author of Lie in the Dark
‘A gripping tale of mystery and intrigue in the claustrophobic, morally treacherous world of post-invasion Baghdad, …this is a compelling noir crime novel told from inside Iraqi society.. A great read! ‘ Jenny White, author of The Winter Thief, A Kamil Pasha novel
This is a book that picks you up and drops you firmly into 2003 Iraq. A powerful well crafted tale. It is a mixture of war thriller and noir crime novel. It takes you into the inside of Iraqi society. With all the uncertainty of a war torn country where corruption is rife.
Inspector Muhsin al-Khafaji is a mid-level Iraqi cop who deserted his post back in April. He is captured by the Americans and imprisoned he is offered a way out. He is asked to organise the formation of a new Iraqi police force. And just to put extra pressure on them they kidnap his ill daughter and offer her the treatment she needs if her father agrees to their demands.
He finds himself an unwilling collaborator. This makes for a great story, which moves between 2003 Iraq and 1988 when Saddam was at the height of his power.
They’re those who welcome the occupation forces and the chance to have a free Iraq. On the other hand they’re those who see these forces, particularly the Americans, as another form of dictatorship. These opposing dishes are wrapped up in alliances built on shifting sands and a dash of corruption.
Elliot has served up a dish of superb writing, cracking tale and a flawed hero. A book I think you will enjoy.
Elliott Colla divides his time between Washington DC and the Middle East. This is his first novel. He teaches Arabic literature at Georgetown University. He has translated much contemporary Arabic literature, including: Ibrahim Aslan’s novel, The Heron, Idris Ali’s Poor, Ibrahim al-Koni’s Gold Dust, and Rabai al-Madhoun’s The Lady from Tel Aviv.
Bitter Lemon Press;
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