Book Review – The Party Worker by Omar Shahid Hamid
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.
After his father was murdered in cold blood he joined Karachi Police as an officer, witnessed crime world from close quarters, survived Taliban’s attack on his office, took sabbatical and decided to write. Omar produced three best sellers one after the other; 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 root of terrorism within Pakistani society and the third one ‘The party worker’ is on crime and politics of Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi.
Omar Shahid Hamid, son of slain bureaucrat is currently SSP Intelligence of counter Terrorism Department in Karachi. He studied at London school of Economics and University College London.
The Party worker is multi layered and rich in diversity of characters. The story covers underworld, businessman, journalist, 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 skull. The bullet may come from lifelong friend and the enemy can ambush anytime and anywhere. The betrayal is punished with death wiping out the entire family. There is entry to the crime world without any exit. As the author is serving police officer, his portrayal of character and the narration of crime story is realistic. The author’s command over colloquial and diction 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 story and the depiction of places. .
‘The Party worker’ is a story about how an altercation and bullying in college sows the seed of a group which evolves into unrivaled force in the city. The movement which starts with an ideology to counter religious forces deviates and becomes a dreaded killing machine. It emerges as the dominant political party and forms government. Its leader controls the affairs ensconced in Brooklyn, USA. He orders for the killing of anyone suspicious or may pose threat to the leadership of the Party. The blood thirsty lieutenants have no qualm in killing six years old to the octogenarian lady. These all are done to create havoc and discipline the rank and file of the Party and among the general public.
The author has closely observed and studied human behavior. This thriller displays the human character; loyalty, trust, treachery, revenge, love and lust. The struggling journalist takes recourse of black mailing to gratify urge for easy money. The mullah runs factory of suicide bombers who is ready provide human bomb in bulk on demand. The role of police is equally sinister. Those who are dutiful and show gumption to take action against criminals are harassed and killed brutally. Even the role of army is dubious who patronize one criminal group to counter the other. As it is bound to happen, a rival group emerges which challenges the reign of The Party. The disparate and distraught affected by misdeed of The Party unite to bring it down. The unscrupulous politicians and police officer collude and exploits the passion and anger of people wronged by the Party to wrest the control and succeed in doing so.
The novel is a crime thriller. It is riveting, easy to read and can be finished in few sittings. Most of the characters are earthy which come from real life. The overstretching of story and the overuse of colloquial are the flaws with this remarkable piece of fiction. This is must for those who are interested in corruption and crime of metropolitan city. The readers of subcontinent will easily connect with the story and will find it fascinating.