Officer Nora Khalil is used to navigating different terrains. As part of a joint task force set up by the Philadelphia Police Department, the FBI, and the local sheriff’s offices, she works to keep Philly’s mean streets safe from gang violence, while trying to honor the expectations of her traditional Egyptian-American family. She can hold her own against hardened murderers and rapists, and her years as a competitive runner ensure that no suspect ever escapes on foot.
Nora tries to keep her professional and personal lives separate, but when a mutilated body is discovered in a tough section of town, Nora must rely on both her police training and her cultural background to find out whether this is another gang-related killing or the grisly evidence of something even darker and more disturbing.
Worldbuilding: The Kingsessing, Philadelphia setting was interesting, certainly tense in terms of cultural clashes and general tension.
Characters: The MC, Nora, was an interesting character, but one I didn’t really get all the way. I admired her efforts, considering she had to overcome some cultural obstacles in order to do what she was doing (and wanted to do), but I didn’t get why those same cultural obstacles still represented an impediment when it came to going all the way with what she wanted. This aspect of Nora didn’t click all the way for me. She obviously went against her father’s notion of what she should be doing on the professional front, but somehow needed an excuse to do so on a more personal level. I simply didn’t get that. Hurrah for finally deciding to be her own person, in whatever way she chose to, in the end. I don’t see the actual choices as important, I must say, but the fact that you’re making them based on your own thinking, feelings, desires, values, and so on.
Anyway, she was a mix of vulnerable and kickass-ish agent, and I rooted for her to settle into her life, I guess. It felt like a New Adult type of novel because of that. I’ve been looking through the novel, but can’t seem to find Nora’a age though I seem to recall she mentions it somewhere. It might actually be a New Adult if she’s 25ish or under.
I found her interesting, bottom line, but I must say not overly likable and not at all exciting. I tend to love loud and proud rebels though, keep in mind. She was a subtler kind of character, not so much a rebel as a slowly developing independent nature, I guess, the do-good type rather than kick-ass, I think. It’s a nuanced and interesting kind of character, but not overly exciting for me on a personal level.
Plot: The mystery / suspense part was good; I liked how the different characters came together and the way different crimes were pieced together to solve the final puzzle – pretty complex but smooth, somehow. There was quite a bit of tension, and enough action to keep the excitement going. I loved the whole cultural thing, the diversity, which is always an interesting area to explore. There was a subtle trace of romance going on too, and I enjoyed that aspect as well.
Writing: Third person, past tense narrative, Nora’s POV (with a couple inserts from a victim in her case). I liked the writing, but somehow made me look at Nora from the outside, not empathize with her much. Third person often does that for me, for some reason. It must be said that the general style wasn’t exactly my favorite, meaning I tend to love snarky, irreverent characters, who tend to express themselves and think in that same note. Nora’s tone wasn’t at all in that vein. So good writing, but not necessarily my fav flavor.
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, hooking blurb. Very good impulsive buy candidate.
All in all, I enjoyed Quicksand and recommend it to lovers of mystery/suspense, especially if you enjoy following different cultures and how they interact, and main characters who aren’t really out to kick ass but more to do the right thing.