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Not Safe by Danuta Reah
Review by Verna Suit
Five Leaves Publications Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781907869099
Date: 01 April 2011 / Show Official Info /

Amir Hamade, an asylum seeker in South Yorkshire, England, is looking for a safe place to sleep on a cold night. He's joined by a young Somali woman, Farah Jafari, who is looking for the same thing. But when they approach a church shelter, the girl panics and runs away. Amir goes to look for her, partly because he worries about a young girl being on the streets alone at night, and partly because he lent her his jacket and wants it back. Not long after, Amir is spotted in an alley bending over Farah's dead body. He's arrested for her murder.

Detective Constable Tina Barraclough is called in to talk to Amir because she knows him, but he stubbornly remains silent about what happened that night. She's quite sure he's not a murderer, though, and starts talking to people who saw him that night, persevering in her investigation even though it's not her case.

Not Safe offers readers an eye-opening look into the limbo of England's asylum system where applicants often remain for years, not permitted to work or marry and at risk of being deported for the slightest infraction. There are hints of Tina's past professional problems and friction within the South Yorkshire PD, but this 85-page novella tightly focuses on the central mystery of Farah's death. Although readers will likely identify a key clue early on, how everything fits together remains a mystery until the suspenseful climax and final denouement. Tina is a good detective, diligent and persistent, and Not Safe is a fine story well told.

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