By Imteyaz Alam
When a cop writes fiction depicting the unholy nexus of crime, politics and religion, the line between fiction and fact is bound to get blurred. The Party Worker by Omar Shahid Hamid is a realistic crime thriller.
Omar Shahid Hamid, son of a slain bureaucrat is currently SSP Intelligence of counter Terrorism Department in Karachi. He studied at London School of Economics and University College London.
After his father was murdered in cold blood, Hamid joined the Karachi Police as an officer, witnessed the crime world from close quarters, survived Taliban’s attack on his office, took a sabbatical and decided to write. Omar produced three bestsellers one after the other; each overshadowing the previous ones. The Prisoner is based on the killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl; the second novel, The Spinner’s Tail is on the root of terrorism within Pakistani society and the third one The Party Worker is on the crime and politics of Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi.
The Party Worker is rich in diversity of characters and is multi-layered. The story covers the underworld, businessmen, journalists, police, intelligence agencies, politicians, mullahs. There are Shias, Sunnis, Parsi, Baloch, Taliban, fighting and colluding. Omar has skillfully woven the diverse characters together and conjured up a brilliant story. The world of crime gets murkier due to the diversity of groups involved. The writer lays bare the dark underbelly of the city where children are shown playing with human skulls. The bullet may come from a lifelong friend and the enemy can ambush anytime and anywhere. Betrayal is punished with death wiping out the entire family. There is entry to the crime world without any exit. As the author is a serving police officer, his portrayal of characters and the narration of crime story is realistic. The author’s command over the colloquial is remarkable. The language and diction of cops of New York markedly differ from that of characters from Karachi. The author’s familiarity with Karachi is quite evident in the story and the depiction of places.