Streets of Darkness

BOOK REVIEW: Streets of Darkness by A. A. Dhand

by David Hall

Streets of Darkness

Author A. A. Dhand

“Outstanding – relentless, multi-layered suspense and real human drama make this a crime debut to relish” Lee Child.

“This up to the minute debut is a scorching story of a city divided…Written with pace and precision, it gives is a character destined for television but also announces the arrival of a formidable crime writer” Daily Mail.

High praise indeed for a debut novel set in our very own Yorkshire city of Bradford. AA Dhand’s novel Streets of Darkness has generated rave reviews since its release. Multiple television companies competed for the rights which sold prior to the book’s release.

Dhand was raised behind the counter of a small corner-shop in Bradford before studying to become a pharmacist. His writing journey started in 2006 and has been far from easy but Dhand attributes his success to his upbringing, observing his parents working unforgiving fourteen-hour shifts in their shop.

“It instilled a work ethic in me which to this day I cannot modify. Quite simply, you work until you’ve finished and no matter how hard life becomes, you never quit.”

Dhand’s passion for dark, pulsating storylines started in childhood. Their corner-shop also contained a video library and unbeknown to his parents, he was sneakily watching adult thrillers becoming increasingly obsessed with the genre. After watching, Silence of the Lambs and realising the movie was based on a novel Dhand started experimenting with his own brand of writing.

He qualified as a pharmacist in 2003 and only then began writing seriously. In 2006 he signed with a prestigious literary agency. However, it took ten years of failures, a change of literary agent and a competitionwin for Dhand to finally see his dream realised with a stellar publishing contract with Transworld, an imprint of Penguinrandomhouse and the publishing house behind 2016 literary phenomenon, The Girl on the Train. He attributes his success to the many years he worked in his parents’ shop, feeding off thousands of customer interactions and understanding what makes people tick; their fears, dreams and frustrations.

So, what about the book?

“The sky over Bradford is heavy with foreboding. It always is. But this morning it has reason to be. A body has been found and it’s not just any body. Detective Harry Virdee should be at his home with his wife. Impending fatherhood should be all he can think about, but he’s been suspended from work just as the biggest case of the year lands on what would have been his desk. He can’t keep himself away. Determined to restore his reputation, Harry is obliged to take to the shadows in search of notorious ex-convict and prime suspect Lucas Dwight. But as this murder threatens to tip an already unstable city into full-scale riot mode, Harry finds his preconceptions turned on their head as he finds out what it’s like to be on the other side of the law…”

Streets of Darkness is a tense, compelling twelve-hours in the life of DI Harry Virdee who puts everything on the line to save Bradford from descending into anarchy reminiscent of the riots of 2001.

“One day to save your job, your city and ultimately your life,” is what Dhand had written on the wall by his desk when he started the book. “That was the vision; a furious, mindblowing twelve hours where nothing is black and white. Harry Virdee can trust nobody as he attempts to stop the city descending into chaos. Most importantly, I wanted a killer twist which nobody would see coming.”

Dhand speaks of Bradford with affection and frustration in equal measure. The book encapsulates everything spectacular about Yorkshire but also harbours a unique darkness where in Bradford race, religion, drugs and power compete for supremacy. As the cover on the hardback states: “Nothing in this city is black and white…”

Streets of Darkness introduces Dhand’s charismatic central character, Sikh detective Harry Virdee who is in an inter-faith marriage with his Muslim wife Saima. Indeed, the storyline adds a unique insight into a topic seldom explored, inter-faith racism, as both Harry and Saima have been disowned by their families for crossing a religious divide. Dhand is clear, that both Harry and Saima see themselves as “British English” and will never put their cultural heritage before their British identity. Dhand believes both characters represent what being British is about; tolerance, acceptance and democracy. He is tired of clichés and stereotypes which dominate Asian identity and with Streets of Darkness he unashamedly blows them apart.

When asked what readers should expect from his debut, he simply says two words: “Brace yourselves.”

AA Dhand’s second novel, Girl Zero is set for release in July and again takes us into the sinister underworld of Bradford’s criminal fraternity. He is currently working on the television script for Streets of Darkness and hopes to have exciting news on this in the near future.

Streets of Darkness is available to buy from Amazon for £6.99 @aadhand