“The Blasphemy Law is set in Pakistan, a country posed on the brink of political and social transformation (or danger, depending on perspective), and tells of an Australian solar engineer who runs into trouble when a ruthless landowner involves a terrorist group in framing her for blasphemy. But it’s not enough for Jane to face imprisonment and death: her family, too, is targeted; and this embroils them in a life and death struggle between good and evil.
One of the special features of the story lies in Salman Shami’s ability to bring Pakistan’s environment and culture to life. From daily village activities (“Jane breathed in the earthy smells of freshly tilled fields, cow dung fires and boiling chai. The chirping of birds mixed with the gentle hubbub of early risers, people conversing in quiet, polite tones. Women were making flatbread and churning lassi for workers heading out into the fields. The village was gently waking from its peaceful slumber.”) to terrorist movements and actions, those who would help Jane are pitted against professionals who would exact revenge.
Whether it’s obsessive assassins, ambushes and confrontations, or a series of close encounters with tenacious military intelligence agents, The Blasphemy Law is replete with political and social strife and terrorist cat-and-mouse games that keep thriller readers involved and immersed in the conundrums of all involved. The well-written plot, strong characterization, and logical progression of events keeps action fast-paced and readers on the edges of their seats.
Shami’s ability to get inside the hearts and minds of all his characters keeps the story fast-paced and filled with insights that lend authenticity to motivations and special interests: “Fazal yawned. What did the major think he was going to learn by letting these foreigners run free. It was obvious they were going to Karachi. He could think of only one reason why that was the case. Karachi was the favourite route for people-smugglers. If he wanted a publicly known figure to leave the country that is the way he would have chosen as well. He was no longer following the spy movie on TV. It had become needlessly complicated. Life was rarely ever like that.”
The result is a thriller that brings its readers right onto the soil and perceptions of the Pakistani people of all walks. It pairs high-octane action with gripping suspense to keep readers on edge until the final, unpredictable conclusion, which cunningly leaves the door open for more while deftly finishing the adventure at hand.”
– D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review