Never So Perfect
By Sobia Quazi
A domestic noir, psychological thriller set in London amongst an elite set of British Asian society
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Never so Perfect is a domestic noir, psychological thriller set in London, 2018, amongst an elite layer of British Asian society. The characters are sophisticated, successful and polished, with more than a few charismatic and high-octane individuals who seem just the type to revel in psychological games. It is a world focused very much on outward appearances. Enter the central character Mia, a successful and glamorous writer recently married into an illustrious and wealthy family.
The story opens with Mia at the launch evening of Zahar Jewels, one of her in-law’s many upscale business enterprises. Mia makes a glamorous entrance, but we sense that she is uncomfortable in this setting. By the end of the night things have taken a sinister turn, when she receives a threatening anonymous note.
From here Mia is plunged into a cat and mouse game with a mystery stalker, during which her identity is gradually unravelled, layer by layer. Mia’s pursuer grows increasingly bold, with the notes assuming an intimate and threatening tone. Unfortunately, the list of suspects is long, and reaches back into Mia’s early life. From the cast of characters around her, to the more shadowy figures from her past, Mia must consider everybody as a potential suspect.
In a race against time, and aided by the only person she can completely trust, her flamboyant best friend Ty, she seeks to uncover the identity of her stalker, in a game that promises to become increasingly dangerous. Like a series of Russian dolls, each hidden inside the last, Mia’s present is dismantled layer by layer, and we enter the complex maze that is her past, a maze littered with secrets that were supposed to be long buried - with the dead. We are forced to confront the questions - is her reality what it seems? And is Mia really Mia?
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Sobia Quazi has been writing on and off since she was a young child. From bawdy limericks in the back of English class (and frequently, afterwards, in detention) to poems and short stories in between anatomy dissection classes many years later. Her early poems were published in poetry magazines like The Frogmore Papers and Smoke. Eventually she executed her escape from medical school and did her PhD in English Literature, dissecting a different kind of dead body, the spectral women of gothic novels and Japanese horror. She is still enthralled by all things dark and gothic, by the intricate webs of intertextuality, and by the transformative power of storytelling. Sobia wrote the first few chapters of Never So Perfect in response to the Asian Writer Chick Lit competition and her entry was selected as the winner by a panel of literary agents and editors. Sobia wants to bring a new type of psychological thriller with compelling British Asian characters, to her audience. She is currently working on her second novel, also a psychological thriller.
A faint prickle of eyes on the back of my neck, that atavistic itch, and I suddenly want to draw into myself. Instead I unfurl, greet the challenge, turn and switch on the same smile I have dazzled all evening, even though my stomach plummets a fraction as I watch them weave through the guests. And although they’re looking off in the other direction, I can sense the focus, know with certainty that they spotted me from afar and are heading towards me with the precision of a B-2 stealth bomber. This is not unlike them.
Zubayr works for the family, in some unknown capacity that enables him to live a lavish lifestyle that at times seems beyond even that of the family - or perhaps he just likes to show it off. An adviser of some sort, perhaps that’s the correct term, because as well as managing their assets, he seems always on hand, a ubiquitous presence. I don’t know how long he’s known the family, but I sometimes get the feeling he is privy to a whole different level of information about them, and their past. I wonder then, how well he knows Zak.
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