Last Updated on November 22, 2017
Quicksand is the first book in the Nora Khalil series by the author Carolyn Baugh. Nora Khalil is a heroine that the crime thriller genre was a long time missing.
Daughter of Egyptian immigrants, she is living with her father in Philadelphia now that her mother has passed away. She is a Muslim police officer, a fact which plays a main part in the book.
She has just been moved from the Philadelphia Police Department to the Safe Streets Task Force charged with cleaning up the streets from gang activity. The task force has just been called to investigate the murder of a young Muslim woman, whose mutilated body was found in an alley in what is called gang territory.
Nora is fluent in pretty much every Arab dialect, which makes her an asset to the team especially when dealing with crimes involving Muslim young women. Using her knowledge and police force training she is the best person to get information from the neighbors in the area – a task which even she will find quite difficult since everyone there hates any kind of authority figures, especially the police.
At less than 300 pages, the story, while not offering many twists and turns, is in fact quite fast paced and it kept me glued to the pages until I finished it, which was pretty much in one session. Lots of action involving heavy turning of the pages just to see what comes next. I did enjoy the story quite a lot.
However what I enjoyed, even more, was the main character, Nora Khalil. Even though the book is pretty short, I could literally see Nora maturing throughout the pages. At the beginning, we meet her still trying to find her place in the world, conflicted and torn between her Muslim upbringing and her job among men in a non-Muslim environment, something that her father is extremely unhappy about.
While she loves her father and respects her culture, she wants more than anything else to help, to solve crimes and be the best she can be at work. She is a strong, dedicated young woman who has a lot to deal with in her life. Especially after she learns some secrets from her past, she has to make some decisions which weigh on her soul heavily.
In addition, Nora seems to develop feelings for a fellow FBI agent, who incidentally is not a Muslim, and this confusing situation adds to her anguish even more. The fact that her aunt is trying to hook her up with some Muslim young man does not help at all.
What she was not aware of initially, but learns over the course of the story is that Nora is a woman with her own mind, who can make her own decisions based on what she wants, needs and is able to achieve, rather than what her culture dictates or what others want from her.
Nora is an inspiration to many women who are afraid to stand up for themselves coming from cultures where this is especially frowned upon, with so many things going against them each and every day.
There are way too few books written about people like Nora, about immigrants and minorities who can make a difference in the world just by being who they are. I cannot wait to read the next book when it comes out because Nora Khalil got me really hooked on the series from the very first story.