Goodreads blurb: It is 2002 and as tanks roll into the West Bank and the reverberations of 9/11 echo across the globe, tensions are running high on Cairo’s streets. Private Investigator Makana, in exile from his native Sudan and increasingly haunted by memories of the wife and daughter he lost, is shaken out of his grief when a routine surveillance job leads him to the horrific murder of a teenage girl.
Seeking answers, he travels to Siwa, an oasis town on the edge of the great Sahara desert, where the law seems disturbingly far away. As violence follows him through the twisting, sand-blown streets and an old enemy lurks in the shadows, Makana discovers that the truth can be as deadly and as changeable as the desert beneath his feet.
When private investigator Makana is asked to investigate the death of a teenage girl who was apparently burnt down in her house when she was sleeping, little did he imagine that the investigation would lead him down the proverbial rabbit hole. While things in Cairo seemed pretty normal as far as the investigation went, his trip to Siwa, an oasis town on the edge of the Sahara opens up a Pandora’s Box teeming with old stories, violent pasts, weird characters and the suchlike.
Pretty soon Makana finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into investigating a series of homicides that happen in Siwa when he is there, and as if this weren’t enough, they also seemed to be connected to his original investigation as well. Battling traditionally held regressive views about women and their role in society, and also trying to convince the authorities that he is there only to help and is no way connected to the homicides, Makana is soon convinced that there is more to this situation than meets his eye.
Whether he is successfully able to solve the Siwa homicides, whether they are connected to his original murder investigation, and how Makana’s past comes back to haunt him forms the crux of this wonderfully written crime thriller. What I found particularly entertaining about the book is the pace of the action and the fact that it does not resort to unnecessary tricks such as unexpected twists and turns. The story unfolds gradually and quietly but surely builds up the suspense as it goes along. And the fact that it does so without allowing the reader to put down the book speaks volumes for the author’s skills to write a ‘page turner’ par compare.
Given that this is the first book that I have read which is set in Northern/North Eastern Africa, I must say I enjoyed the book and its setting thoroughly. And what’s more Makana’s character is so wonderfully and subtly layered that I have decided to get my hands on the remaining three books in the Makana series.
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A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for a honest and unbiased review.