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Launch of Zaid Karim Private Investigator!

Where did the idea for Zaid Karim come from, how much is based on real events, and what is next for Zaid?

Published

Zaid Karim, Private Investigator

I’m so excited to share the release of Zaid Karim Private Investigator.

This novel has been three years in the making: from when I first began serializing it on MuslimMatters.org in early 2017, to its completion on MM nine months later, to the first wave of revisions based on comments by my editor Amy Estrada and the MM readers, to the final revision after further input from another editor, Rafael Lopez.

If you’ve already read it online, I encourage you to buy the new ebook or paperback. There’s nothing like holding a physical copy in your hands. And there have been some changes.

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One thing I’ve consistently noticed in the input I’ve received from MM readers is that a lot of you are doctors! My characters always seem to get injured, and apparently I often make mistakes when describing their treatment or symptoms. And the MM readers call me on it. I’m grateful for that, and I have always made changes to the story in response.

The final version is, in my opinion, tight as a drum. I added a few minor transitional scenes, and eliminated a lot of irrelevant musings by Zaid that tended to take the reader away from the action. Zaid has an irreverent and odd sense of humor, and that flavors the book, but Rafael Lopez pointed out that the inclusion of this humor during climactic moments sabotages the tension of the story, and he was right. So I ended up deleting some of those.

A key change from the MM version occurs during the climactic battle on Ouagadiri Island. I don’t want to give it away, but I’ll say that it was an important change, and had to do with how I see Zaid, and how he sees himself. Let me know if you read the book and catch the change, and what you think.

Here are some answers to questions I often receive about Zaid Karim Private Investigator, and about my writing process in general:

Q: How much of this book is fact and how much is fiction?

A: Telling the true story of my life would be problematic. So I fictionalize. Every novel I’ve written has some autobiographical elements, with fictional events and invented characters mixed it. Lately, in my short stories, I’ve been trying to branch out more and create characters that are wholly fictional. Well, let me amend that. I create characters whose lives are based on real-world social dynamics and believable situations. I want emotional honesty above all. The particular circumstances of their lives, however, are invented.

Q: How did you get the idea for this book?

East Los Angeles

East Los Angeles

A: When I was twenty one years old I helped a friend track down and find his young missing daughter. But it was quite different from the narrative in Zaid Karim. For example, we started our search in East Los Angeles, first talking to people, then breaking down doors. Along the way we crashed our car in Mazatlan, had a nearly disastrous run-in with the Mexican police in Guadalajara, got in an argument with South African Tablighi Jamaat members at the Egyptian Club in Mexico City, were invited to a bizarre meeting of wealthy Mexican sufis, and ended up in the mountains of southern Mexico. That incident was the seed for Zaid Karim.

As for the setting in the latter half of the book, I lived in Panama for four years, and in fact I lived in El Valle de Anton, the idyllic little town where Yusuf Cruz lives. Though my house was not a mansion!

Q: Zaid’s kind of violent, isn’t he?

A: Yes, at times. He is young, and he’s been through a lot. He wants to change, but doesn’t know how. He needs some catalyst to transform his thinking. I suspect that novel that Alejandra gave him, On My Way to Paradise, will play a role. As he continues to grow, I believe we’ll see him evolve.

Q: So you plan to write more Zaid Karim mysteries?

A: Depends on how well this one sells. If you want to see more, buy ten copies: one for you, and nine for your friends, ha ha.

Q: What about a crossover between Zaid Karim and Hassan Amir?

A: It could happen. Zaid is Jamilah’s cousin, after all, and their stories happen around the same time.

Q: Who would win in a fight between Zaid and Hassan?

A: Lol, why would they be fighting? But here you go:

  • Gunfight: Hassan.
  • Sticks: Zaid.
  • Knives: Even match.
  • Empty hands: Hassan, by a mile.

Q: What’s next for Zaid Karim?

A: His body will need healing time and therapy, but knowing Zaid he will probably plow right ahead. He needs to investigate this so-called convert who is trying to radicalize the youth. We will learn more about the event that enabled him to be pardoned and released from prison early. We just might learn more about the strange comment made by Farah Anwar regarding Zaid’s mother, that she should have “aborted you and kept the lame one.” Zaid will almost certainly return to Panama, to find Angie and try to help her, especially now that he is a foster father to he daughter. Lastly, an important figure from Zaid’s past, a person of power and influence, might call upon him to investigate a crime he is uniquely qualified to handle. Stay tuned.

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels, Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters, and Zaid Karim Private Investigator, are available on Amazon.com.

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Alhamdulillah, we're at 900 supporters. Help us get to 1000 supporters before Ramadan ends. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Amazon.com: Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including, Zawaj.com, IslamicAnswers.com and IslamicSunrays.com. He teaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at WaelAbdelgawad.com. For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Wael Abdelgawad

    April 6, 2020 at 12:27 PM

    Just want to add my thanks for MM for providing me with the forum to publish these stories in the first place; and to my loyal MM readers for encouraging me to keep writing. Jazakum Allah khayr.

  2. Omar Al Ekkad

    April 6, 2020 at 11:34 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum brother Wael. I’ve loved all your stories and just wanted to say JazakumAllah Khair. They have actually inspired me to start practicing Brazilian Jiujitsu. Also truthfully they are the only reason I check MM regularly ;) May Allah SWT reward you and accept!

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      April 7, 2020 at 12:51 AM

      MashaAllah brother Omar, how is your BJJ training going? How do you like it?

      I have a couple of short stories in the queue. You should see them soon inshaAllah. But while you’re here, why not check out some of the other interesting articles? :-)

      If you are on FB feel free to connect: https://www.facebook.com/wael1/

  3. SZH

    June 1, 2020 at 3:22 AM

    MaShaAllah, congratulations for the new book!
    I will be buying one, not ten, but would like the story to progress further.. :-P

  4. Humaira Khan

    July 28, 2020 at 2:22 AM

    I just finished reading Zaid Karim (bought it on a whim while browsing amazon for books by Muslim writers) and loved it. I miss the characters already and would love to read more Zaid Karim mysteries. Just a couple of things though: I don’t care what Zaid’s pain threshold is, I still don’t think he could have stitched his cut himself (yes, I’m a physician and it didn’t sit well with me). Another issue was that you were somewhat heavy handed with the similes, with there being several on a page sometimes. The language and pace was otherwise great though. I’m still waiting on Hasan Amir’s story to be out in point so hopefully that’s something you’re considering. I haven’t had much time to read Muslim fiction lately but I’m glad I did; it’s motivated me to write too. Thanks

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      July 28, 2020 at 12:07 PM

      Humaira, mashaAllah, I’m glad you bought the book and enjoyed it. I’d appreciate it VERY much if you wrote a review on Amazon.com.

      You’re not the first person to comment about the jokes, metaphors and similes. Actually I toned it down from the original draft! About the stitching, I don’t know… I once had a wound stitched without anesthetic of any kind and it was painful, but not intolerable.

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