Recently Hannah Bright at Midas PR got in touch to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of the 2021 Reading Agency Quick Reads in support of the 15th Anniversary of the scheme. Obviously, I was more than interested and I am delighted to share my review of The Motive by Khurrum Rahman today. Before I do that, however, let me tell you a little bit about Quick Reads.
One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – find reading difficult, and one in three people do not regularly read for pleasure. Quick Reads, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, plays a vital role in addressing these shocking statistics by inspiring emergent readers, as well as those with little time or who have fallen out of the reading habit, with entertaining and accessible writing from the very best contemporary authors.
This year’s short books include:
– a dark domestic thriller from British Book Award winner Louise Candlish (The Skylight), who thanks reading for setting her on the right path when she was ‘young and adrift’
– an uplifting romance by the much-loved Katie Fforde (Saving the Day), who never thought she would be able to be an author because of her struggle with dyslexia
– the holiday from hell for Detective Roy Grace courtesy of long-time literacy campaigner and crime fiction maestro Peter James (Wish You Were Dead)
– a specially abridged version of the feminist manifesto (How to Be a Woman) by Caitlin Moran: ‘everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend.’
– an introduction to Khurrum Rahman’s dope dealer Javid Qasim (The Motive), who previously found the idea of reading a book overwhelming and so started reading late in life, to find ‘joy, comfort and an escape’
– Oyinkan Braithwaite’s follow-up to her Booker nominated debut sensation My Sister, the Serial Killer – a family drama set in lockdown Lagos (The Baby is Mine)
About The Reading Agency and Quick Reads
The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We work closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Reading Agency is funded by Arts Council England.
Quick Reads, a programme by The Reading Agency, aims to bring the pleasures and benefits of reading to everyone, including the one in three adults in the UK who do not regularly read for pleasure, and the one in six adults in the UK who find reading difficult. The scheme changes lives and plays a vital role in addressing the national crisis around adult literacy in the UK. Each year, Quick Reads commissioning editor Fanny Blake works with UK publishers to commission high profile authors to write short, engaging books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. Since 2006, over 5 million books have been distributed through the initiative, 5 million library loans (PLR) have been registered and through outreach work hundreds of thousands of new readers each year have been introduced to the joys and benefits of reading.
From 2020 – 2022, the initiative is supported by a philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes. This year, for every book bought until 31 July 2021, another copy will be gifted to help someone discover the joy of reading. ‘Buy one, gift one’ will see thousands of free books given to organisations across the UK to reach less confident readers and those with limited access to books – bring the joy and transformative benefits of reading to new audiences.
All of the Quick Reads are available for purchase in all the usual places at just £1.
A Jay Qasim short story and prequel to EAST OF HOUNSLOW written for Quick Reads 2021
Business has been slow for Hounslow’s small time dope-dealer, Jay Qasim. A student house party means quick easy cash but it also means breaking his own rules. But desperate times lead him there – and Jay finds himself in the middle of a crime scene.
Idris Zaidi, a Police Constable and Jay’s best friend, is having a quiet night when he gets a call out following a noise complaint at a house party. Fed up with the lack of excitement in his job, he visits the scene and quickly realises that people are in danger after a stabbing.
Someone will stop at nothing to get revenge . . .
My Review of The Motive
Jay’s evening will be more exciting than he anticipated.
Before commenting on the narrative of The Motive, I must comment on the perfect font and text size in the book. It is accessible to more reluctant readers, including those who have difficulty in reading.
The Motive starts off in a seemingly innocuous manner with Conrad and Sahira chatting together and builds throughout into an exciting and fast paced drama that would make a fabulous television story. In around 110 pages, Khurrum Rahman packs a huge punch; both literally in the story and metaphorically in reader enjoyment. Whilst the scenario and plot are very much outside my own experience, I loved the way drug dealing, violence, racism and corruption are woven in to the story because I think these are topics young men in particular can relate to, making the Quick Read purpose of the book completely fulfilled. However, that isn’t to say The Motive isn’t a captivating and heart racing story for those of us who love to read – it is!
The characterisation is compelling. Khurrum Rahman made me back Jay all the way even though his actions are not entirely legal. Now I have been introduced to him, and to Idris, I really want to know what other adventures and experiences they will have because I feel I have only just begun to know them and they have a depth I want to uncover. Consequently, The Motive is a tantalising read as well as an engaging one.
I also thought the frequent use of expletives actually worked really well. The direct speech is natural so that the characters feel real and vivid to the reader. Indeed, the brilliance of The Motive is that Khurrum Rahman doesn’t patronise his readers or present difficult issues like interracial relationships in an idealised way. Rather, the real-life issues of society are played out on the page in an authentic manner. This is a story that is eye opening and thought provoking as well as hugely entertaining.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Motive and think it is a great addition to the Quick Reads series. It’s cracking crime fiction for all readers.
About Khurrum Rahman
Born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1975, Khurrum moved to England when he was one. He is a west London boy and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons. Khurrum is currently working as a Senior IT Officer but his real love is writing. His first two books in the Jay Qasim series, East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero, have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger.