Tuesday, August 9, 2011
"Finding Nouf", by Zoë Ferraris
Also published under the title 'The Night of the Mir'aj '
Book1 in the Katya Hijazi series
This is an unusual and engaging detective mystery that takes us inside Saudi Arabia, to the heart of a society normally closed to outsiders, thus offering a fascinating and riveting glimpse into the stricter side of the Islamic culture.
The story is basically a run of the mill mystery but what makes it stand above many in its genre is the manner in which the author has conveyed her thoughts on a segment of Saudi life. This exquisitely written tale is told with respect, without judgement and from both female and male perspectives skilfully drawing the reader into the psyche of the author's finely portrayed protagonists.
The suspense starts with sixteen year old Nouf disappearing from her house days before her arranged marriage and under murky circumstances. Could she have been kidnapped or has she run away? Her brother Othman seeks help from his trusted friend Nayir and asks him to investigate. A week into the investigation, Nayir and his Bedouin comrades discover Nouf's body in the desert outside Jeddah, but this leaves many questions to be answer. The coroner quickly rules Nouf's death an accident but lab assistant, Katya Hijazi, feels there is more to the story and shares her thoughts with Nayir. The fact that Nouf was pregnant and had defensive wounds sets off alarm bells, how can this be considered an accident? Katya and Nayir lead the reader through a maze of Saudi customs to find out what really happened...
'Finding Nouf' is fast paced and loaded with twists and turns, very entertaining and captivating from start to finish