2021 is the 15th year of Quick Reads, an initiative run by the Reading Agency charity to help reach people who find reading difficult, or who don’t read regularly for pleasure. Every year, six new Quick Reads titles are published: short books that are distributed to libraries or available to buy at a low price (£1 in paperback).
I was invited by Midas PR to review one of this year’s Quick Reads titles. The 2021 selection includes The Baby is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic), The Skylight by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster), Saving the Day by Katie Fforde (Arrow), Wish You Were Dead by Peter James (Macmillan), and How to Be a Woman abridged by Caitlin Moran (Ebury). But I went for The Motive by Khurrum Rahman (HQ), which is a prequel to his series of spy thrillers featuring Jay Qasim, a west London dope-dealer who reluctantly ends up working for MI5.
In The Motive, Jay takes a call from a stranger asking him to deal at a student house party. Jay would prefer to stick to customers he knows, but times are tough. He might wish he’d kept to his rules, though, when one of the students is stabbed. What’s more, Jay’s friend Idris – a police officer – is also called to the scene.
I enjoyed reading this: it’s snappily told, with Jay and Idris both engaging narrators. You get a real sense of the tense atmosphere at the house party, and there are several twists when it comes to who’s responsible for the crime. I’m interested to see where Rahman takes Jay after this, so I think I’ll be reading more in the future.