Review: The Prisoner by Omar Shahid Hamid


A fast-paced novel, based on the kidnapping of an American journalist in Karachi: Mint

The most engaging examples of crime fiction show you not only how their protagonist’s mind works, but also how the city they are operating in works: the Edinburgh of John Rebus, the various Italian cities of Aurelio Zen, the Bangkok of Sonchai Jitpleecheep. With his debut novel The Prisoner, Omar Shahid Hamid lets the reader see through the eyes of deputy superintendent Constantine D’Souza of Karachi’s Central Prison and also get an insight into the city.
The Prisoner starts with a jihadi group’s kidnapping of American journalist Jon Friedland—a name perhaps not intentionally similar to that of British journalist Jonathan Freedland—from an upmarket Karachi neighbourhood. The group’s threat to execute Friedland on Christmas Day, just before the US president visits Pakistan, puts great pressure on the police and intelligence agencies and prompts high-level efforts to rescue him.
D’Souza is asked to assist on the case by facilitating discussions between intelligence officials and his old colleague Akbar Khan, now an inmate of D’Souza’s jail, but still the person most likely to know where Friedland might be.