Barbara Nadel - Poisoned Ground
"...another masterpiece from Barbara Nadel. "
Another case for the unusual couple of Hakim and Arnold, private detectives in London's East End. Mumtaz Hakim is a clever, educated Muslim woman struggling with a debt incurred by her dead husband and trying to protect her teenage daughter from the nasty gang to whom the debt is owed. Lee Arnold is an experienced ex-cop, with an unsatisfactory love life, a few good contacts both with the law and the underworld, and the proverbial heart of gold. Together they provide a user-friendly service for the multicultural inhabitants of the East End.
Mumtaz is contacted by the Egyptian wife of a criminal convicted of storing materials for a bomb. Salwa is convinced that her husband Hatem is not guilty and wants Mumtaz to prove it. To do this Mumtaz has to infiltrate the mental hospital where Hatem worked and puts herself at risk. What she discovers there is much more complicated and sinister than she expected. Lee's background knowledge and contacts come in handy in protecting Mumtaz. Along with the main story, Mumtaz is haunted by the ghosts of her husband's past and that threat is as bad as the immediate one she faces.
Grounded in the East End, which Barbara Nadel knows very well, this series is completely believable and timely, as terrorist threats are always in the news. Her two main characters are engaging and involve you in their lives to the extent that you want to shout encouragement and advice from the sidelines - “Don't do it Mumtaz!”. The warmth and care as well as the criminal underground suffusing the area are beautifully described.
The plot is intricate and keeps you guessing until the very last minute, with even a threat hanging over to a later book. Nadel's personal knowledge and her contacts in the mental health service provide a chilling picture of what could happen. I say 'could' as I am hoping Nadel is using some literacy licence as the situation is extremely scary. This series has brilliantly established itself and this latest is another masterpiece from Barbara Nadel. Long may it continue!
Reviewed by: S.D.