Every so often when reviewing books, I come across one that makes me stop and question everything that I thought I knew and, consequently, stays with me some time after the final pages. If I’m completely honest, I never expected to enjoy Bright Shiny Things as much as I did. The reason why? The subject of Radical Islam is not only frightening and unnerving but is also extremely hard going. I have never fully understood radicalisation and I suppose deep down I’ve never really wanted to; almost like ignoring it ensures it doesn’t become a problem in my life. However, I realise that this is perhaps an ignorant stance to take, for it is a constant fear and worry and a threat that we all now have to live with day in and day out. Yet, after finishing Barbara Nadel’s book, I felt as though I had learnt something as well as understanding a little of the terrifying process of radicalisation. I would like to say that it makes the subject a little better to approach, but I don’t think that’s even possible. What it does do though, is go some way to explaining how easily lead vulnerable men, and indeed women, are and how worryingly difficult it is for us as a civilised society to eradicate it… Terrorism is, as much as I hate to say it, a part of all of our lives. In fact, I received this book through the post on the very same day that London witnessed the most horrific terrorism attack on Westminster Bridge.
Bright Shiny Things may be stark and brutal but it is also fascinating and compelling in its subject matter. Hakim and Arnold are Private Investigators. The two of them are physically contrasted in terms of race and sex; Mumtaz Hakim is a Muslim woman and Lee Arnold is a white man. However, they have both seen the savage effects of war and its aftermath and believe in doing the right thing by their close friends and family. When Lee is asked to help trace a friend’s son, who has supposedly embraced radical Islam, he and Mumtaz find themselves delving deeper and deeper into this terrifying path whilst putting themselves and all of those around them in danger.
Bright Shiny Things was always going to be a hard read, but I feel that Barbara has managed to give a glimpse into the process of the initial stages of radicalisation and in turn, it enables the reader to reach a better understanding as to why so many youngsters embrace this way of life. In fact, the process of radicalisation starts online for many and through the interactions Mumtaz has online with a Syrian fighter I could clearly see the usual elements of grooming surfacing. The fact that most of this recruitment takes place through such simplistic social media applications is beyond belief…
Barbara’s writing is edgy and the action is very well paced. You do need to keep up the concentration levels because there is a lot going on in the book, but it really does draw you in to the story. Lee and Mumtaz work so well together and I love how well written Mumtaz is and how she never loses faith in her own beliefs. Mumtaz’s character is actually a refreshing change as a PI!
We tend to hear the word radicalisation banded about so often in the media but without really understanding what it means. Bright Shiny Things offers us a glimpse into that world and, whilst it may be utterly chilling, it is guaranteed to leave the reader a little bit more informed about its creation.
Bright Shiny Things is fascinating, very well structured and a thoroughly intelligent read. Thank you very much to Emma Finnigan PR for introducing me to this wonderful author.
Bright Shiny Things is published on 20th April 2017
Barbara Nadel can be found on Twitter @BarbaraNadel