Saturday, August 28, 2010

City of Veils - A review

City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris

Description from the publisher: Women in Saudi Arabia are expected to lead quiet lives circumscribed by Islamic law and tradition. But Katya, one of the few women in the medical examiner's office, is determined to make her work mean something.

When the body of a brutally beaten woman is found on the beach in Jeddah, the city's detectives are ready to dismiss the case as another unsolvable murder-chillingly common in a city where the veils of conservative Islam keep women as anonymous in life as the victim is in death. If this is another housemaid killed by her employer, finding the culprit will be all but impossible.

Only Katya is convinced that the victim can be identified and her killer found. She calls upon her friend Nayir for help, and soon discovers that the dead girl was a young filmmaker named Leila, whose controversial documentaries earned her many enemies. 

With only the woman's clandestine footage as a guide, Katya and Nayir must confront the dark side of Jeddah that Leila struggled to expose: an underworld of prostitution, violence, exploitation, and jealously guarded secrets. Along the way, they form an unlikely alliance with an American woman whose husband has disappeared. Their growing search takes them from the city's car-clogged streets to the deadly vastness of the desert beyond.

In CITY OF VEILS, award-winning author Zoë Ferraris combines a thrilling, fast-paced mystery with a rare and intimate look into women's lives in the Middle East.

What did I think?  City of Veils is the follow up novel to Zoe Ferraris' first book Finding Nouf (a novel which I now think I need to read).  It was interesting and well paced with likable and diverse characters.  I like the inner struggles the characters deal with:  independent women in a conservative society, devout men struggling with their faith, Americans in a foreign country.  Fascinating.  A really enjoyable read.

* Thank you to Hachette Book Group for giving me this book free of charge to review.

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