Amer Anwar’s ex-con Zaq Khan and his best friend, Jags, first appeared in Brothers in Blood. They’re back in Stone Cold Trouble; Zaq is still working in a builder’s yard in Southall, after serving five years in prison for manslaughter, and trouble is still finding him with disturbing regularity... Darkly funny, packed with action and, for all its violence, brimming with warmth, this is a worthy successor to Anwar’s excellent debut.
Zaq and Jags, the Asian street warriors introduced in the award-winning Brothers in Blood (2018), are on the hunt again. This time they’re after those responsible for putting Zaq’s brother in hospital while also trying to retrieve a necklace of historic significance that Jag’s uncle lost in a game of cards. It’s fair to say that Amer Anwar has been more influenced by Peter James than PD James: action takes precedence over detection. Like its precursor, Stone Cold Trouble is a frantic tale of family, food and fighting — a song to the sensual delights of Southall, west London — that insists justice is often best delivered “up close and personal”. That the boys are on the side of the angels does, perhaps, excuse the wince-making welter of blood, bruises and broken bones.