Wednesday, 8 December 2010

City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris

Imagine trying to identify a murder victim where her face and her hands have been systematically destroyed.  Then by luck you discover a photo of her in her possessions, only to realize that because of her religious practices her face would be virtually un-recognized by anyone outside her immediate family, which you haven't yet identified.

This is the starting point for Zoe Ferraris's new novel.  Set in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Detective Osama Ibrahim faces just these barriers or you could call them challenges.With the assistance of Katya Hijazi, from the coroners office,  and her friend(?) Nayir Sharqi, he wades through social and religious customs to identify the victim and find her murdered.

This is a world that I have had no exposure to, other than a Canadian sitcom called Little Mosque on the Prairie.  I was intrigued.  How were Osama and Katya going to solve this mystery and how were they going to work together when they are not related and Katya is not supposed to talk to a non-family male.  How was Katya going to deal with her male office mates. How would Osama interview women surrounding this investigation.   Every page of this novel revealed issues that each of the characters had to weigh their understanding of their religion and how it would impinge on them, their families, their co-workers and those who they had to interview.  Ms. Ferraris did a wonderful job of portraying these dilemmas and the seriousness with which each character dealt with them. 

Excellent mystery and wonderful handling of the topic (seclusion of Muslim women).  Some of the same characters in this story are also found in Zoe's earlier book  Finding Nouf.

Thanks to Little, Brown and Company for my review copy.

note: the cover of this book is quite dark and it was very difficult to photograph without a glare.


Felicity Grace Terry said...

What a fascinating sounding book and certainly different. I'm away to add this to my wish list, thanks for the recommendation.

Anonymous said...

That sounds really interesting. I may have to try to find a copy of that book :-)

Thanks for sharing!

~ Meagan

Anonymous said...

I have wanted to read Finding Nouf but haven't gotten around to it. And now I really want to read this one. I think I better get on the stick.

Miri said...

This sounds absolutely fascinating!

Jenny Girl said...

This world and culture fascinates me as well. Great review and I'm adding this to the tbr.