Blog tour: 2 to 6 September 2021
On an ordinary working day …
Leila Syed receives a call that cleaves her life in two. Her brother-in-law’s voice is filled with panic. His son’s nursery has called to ask where little Max is.
Your worst nightmare …
Leila was supposed to drop Max off that morning. But she forgot.
Racing to the carpark, she grasps the horror of what she has done.
Is about to come true …
What follows is an explosive, high-profile trial that will tear the family apart. But as the case progresses it becomes clear there’s more to this incident than meets the eye …
A gripping, brave and tense courtroom drama, Next of Kin will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final, heart-stopping page.
After reading and enjoying Kia Abdullah’s previous two books, Take It Back and Truth Be Told, I knew I wanted to read Next of Kin and I wasn’t disappointed with this excellent courtroom drama.
Leila and Yasmin Syed are sisters. Their parents died when the women were young so they are extremely close and, being nearly eight years older than Yasmin, Leila brought up her sister single handedly and did her best to provide for them both.
Yasmin is an executive personal assistant and married to Andrew Hansson and they have a three-year-old son, Max, and Leila runs her own architecture firm and is separated from her husband, Will Carmichael, and they don’t have any children. Over the years, the couples have been too close at times, living near each other, and the sisters have an intense if rather volatile and emotional relationship.
One Monday morning in July, Yasmin has already left for work when Andrew receives a page to say his company server has gone down, which he needs to attend to immediately. Panicking, he phones sister-in-law, Leila, to ask if she’ll drop off his son, Max, at nursery. She’s a bit annoyed, as the couple regularly ask her to look after her nephew, but she agrees and heads straight round.
After picking up Max, Leila receives a phone call from her assistant. There’s an emergency at her work too and she races to the office to solve the problem, completely forgetting that a sleeping Max is in the car.
It’s only when Leila gets a frantic call at half 11 from Andrew, who has been contacted by nursery, that she realises that Max has been in her car all morning. In shocking scenes, we experience the harrowing aftermath of Leila’s tragic mistake and the subsequent court case that follows as she is accused of deliberately leaving her nephew in the car while attending to her work issue.
Next of Kin was an emotional and thought-provoking read and my allegiance and sympathy for various characters changed as the story progressed and we learnt more about the main protagonists. Such a heart-breaking and traumatic scenario and I felt so sorry for all involved. It was such an intense and dramatic read and I was intrigued to see how everything would be resolved in this painful nightmare.
In his pursuit of a case, the police officer, Detective Sergeant Christopher Shepherd, was really horrible to Leila and I was frustrated and annoyed with him on her behalf. And during the court scenes, I felt so sorry for Leila as she was grilled by the prosecution and her words and actions were twisted to make her seem guilty and it felt like she didn’t have the chance to defend herself properly.
Overall, I really enjoyed this tense, disturbing and emotive novel. It was well written and cleverly plotted and had me gripped from beginning to end – an explosive start, a tense middle and a shocking finish! There were lots of twists and turns and, just when I thought I had everything figured out, the story produced some startling revelations.
Another powerful, compelling and sensitively written legal/courtroom thriller from the author. I’m definitely a big Kia Abdullah fan and looking forward to her next book already!
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About the author
Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. Her novel, Take It Back, was named one of the best thrillers of the year by The Guardian and The Telegraph and was selected for an industry-first audio serialisation by HarperCollins and The Pigeonhole.
Kia has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Times, and is the founder of Asian Booklist, a non-profit organisation that advocates for diversity in publishing.
Born in Tower Hamlets in East London, Kia was raised in a family of eight children and has five sisters. She has a degree in computer science from the University of London.
In 2007, Kia left her job in tech to pursue a career as a writer and worked as sub-editor and later features editor at Asian Woman Magazine. She then went on to join global publisher Penguin Random House working on the digital Rough Guides. In 2014, she quit her day job to found Atlas & Boots, an outdoor travel blog.
Today, she splits her time between London and the Yorkshire Dales town of Richmond, and spends her time writing, hiking, mentoring pupils from Tower Hamlets and visiting far-flung destinations for Atlas & Boots.
Kia loves to travel, hates to cook and is a Star Trek fan.
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