284 pages
ISBN 978-1-55128-124-4
DDC C813'.6





Reviewed by Michael Payne

Michael Payne is head of the reasearch and publications program,
Historic Sites and Archives Service, Alberta Community Development, and
co-author of A Narrative History of Fort Dunvegan.


Most police procedurals aim at a rather dark, and often disturbingly violent, tone, but R.A.C.E. opts instead for a lighthearted and humorous approach to the genre. Comic situations and wry observations on urban life and multicultural misconceptions are not standard fare in police novels, so this first novel by Mobashar Qureshi sets itself an ambitious goal.


The story begins with the rather hapless, but engaging, Jon Rupret watching a car being towed away from outside of his apartment. Rupret is a parking enforcement officer so the ticket and tow is not surprising, except when it dawns on him that the car in question is his own. When he eventually gets to work, late and by streetcar, he discovers that he has been unaccountably transferred to the drug squad. This comes as yet another surprise to Rupret because he has only recently messed up a huge drug bust through his overzealous pursuit of parking enforcement. It is not clear if he has been brought into the drug squad as part of an elaborate plot to undermine the investigation of a new criminal gangthe Radical Association of Criminal Ethnicities (R.A.C.E.)or if senior drug squad officers are just engaged in an effort to discredit and humiliate him. Certainly, his fellow officers do not welcome Rupret with much enthusiasm, but the squad is understaffed due to a nasty corruption scandal and word on the street is that a new, remarkably potent, and addictive drug called Nex is about to be launched.


R.A.C.E. and Nex are connected, but Rupret and his new colleagues have little success penetrating the gang or its plans. This is partly due to Rupret’s well-meaning but utterly bumbling approach to police work, but also to the machinations of a police insider who is leaking key information to the gang.


The conclusion of the book suggests another novel in the works, so readers may soon have a chance to renew their acquaintance with Qureshi’s madcap and slightly farcical approach to police novels.


Qureshi, Mobashar., “R.A.C.E.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/28432.