Sunday, August 1, 2010

City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris

It is rare that a follow-up book is better than the first, but as much as I really enjoyed Ferraris’ first Saudi Arabia mystery, Finding Nouf, the second one is even better. The main characters are Nayir, a devout Muslim desert guide, and Katya, a forensic analyst caught in the dilemma that is Saudi’s policing system - there is strong disapproval of women who have jobs; men are not allowed to interview female suspects or touch female corpses; there must, therefore, be female police officers and analysts, but women shouldn’t have jobs… You get the picture.
In City of Veils, a young woman’s body has been discovered and Katya would like to be part of the team that solves the murder. She is lucky to have an ally in a convention-breaking senior detective, Osama, who allows her to participate in the investigation. As they go about solving the girl’s murder, Nayir is drawn into helping Katya again and their uneasy connection is tested and made stronger.
I was surprised, in both books, at Ferraris’ ability to allow me to relate to characters whose lives would seem to be so very different from my own. I was on the edge of my seat from the story, while at the same time thinking about the lives of men and women in Saudi Arabia in a way I hadn’t before.