Today’s guest post is by Chelle Cordero, author of the recently released novel Hyphema (Kindle Edition, Vanilla Heart Publishing, April 15). She is the author of eight novels, including “Bartlett’s Rule,” “Hostage Heart,” and “Final Sin.”
Is there a Red Herring in the room?
The heroine of my latest novel, Hyphema, is a recent immigrant from Pakistan. Sudah has a reasonable command of the English language, but American idioms sometimes confuse her. I wonder what she would think of the expression “Red Herring”?
According to Wikipedia, the idiom “Red Herring” in a mystery story refers to something thrown in to distract the reader, perhaps to make the “whodunit” a bit harder to figure out.
I used Sudah’s ethnic background, and her Muslim religion, as an excuse in my story ~ an excuse for the local police and her husband’s coworkers to assume the strange happenings threatening Sudah’s family were just the locals letting their feelings be known. In today’s contemporary society, isn’t that what often happens? Even though Muslims have been in this country for years, since September 2001 there has been a heightened suspicion of this group of people. Add to that Sudah’s brown skin and the hajib (scarf) she wears in public, and a lot of people look at her with resentment and mistrust in their eyes.
Sudah is married to Matt Garratti, an “All American male” (at least a few generations), a flight medic, a Christian, and a New York transplant. They share a son. Sudah was just a child in Pakistan the day extremists hijacked four airplanes to use as weapons. She remembers her mother consoling a friend whose husband had come to America and hoped to become a citizen and bring his family along only to die along with three thousand innocent souls simply because he ran to the towers to try to help.
It’s a sad commentary when we accept intolerance and it’s sad when we direct our hyper-vigilance towards an entire ethnic group. And just perhaps, the police in this story are a little too quick to assume that someone is out to get them because of Sudah’s ethnic background.
Excerpt from Hyphema
“I don’t have to calm the hell down!” Matt’s voice rose. “We could have died a couple a weeks ago because somebody messed with the stove pipe and my CO detector. And you didn’t do anything then. And now someone tried to kidnap my son. They probably would’ve gotten away with it if I hadn’t pulled down the road when I did.”…
“Sit down and be quiet.” Matt blustered and finally sat. He was furious. “You’ve been making a lot of noise that the police down here aren’t doing their jobs. Now I know you’ve had a few incidents of vandalism…”
“It’s been more than a few incidents of vandalism.”
“Shut your mouth. I am still talking.” The detective stood over Matt and waited. “Now I admit you probably got a few folks around here upset thinking they might have a terrorist living here.” He tilted his head towards Sudah. “And they really should be more open minded, so you have a reason to be upset.”
“My wife is not a terrorist!”