Her second book set in Jeddah is as satisfying and well written as The Night of the Mi’raj, Zoe Ferraris’ first crime novel. The story begins with both a murder and the return to Saudi Arabia of Miriam Walker, an American whose husband has found work in the city. When her husband fails to meet her she is treated by men at the airport with uncaring contempt; no diatribe about women’s lowly status could be more revealing. Worse is to come when she gets back to their neglected flat and realises that he is not coming home. She is obliged to put on an all concealing veil and venture out to look for him.
As for the murder, when a woman’s body is discovered on a beach investigators assume that another housemaid has been brutally murdered; apparently their deaths are all too frequent and the treatment they receive, appalling. This time the dead woman turns out to be a woman of good family who, in contravention of all traditions, has been making films. As Miriam seeks her husband , the two mysteries are linked and the suspense becomes compelling.
Katya, the forensic scientist introduced in the earlier book, is involved in solving the crime . Since she last saw Nayir , he has avoided her, afraid both of sin and commitment. Now, they once more work together and the author is able to show their complicated but sweet and gentle regard for each other.
In Night of the Mi’raj Ferraris’ main characters are citizens of the country but this time she shows us Jeddah through a Western woman’s eyes and it is frightening. The plot is fast moving with a tense and exciting finish. I hope the author is already writing a third Jeddah story.
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