This is a mystery set in Saudi Arabia, Nouf Shrawi is missing, a pious desert guide named Nayir has been asked by Nouf’s brother, who is Nayir’s friend to look for her. After she is found dead, Nayir is asked, unofficially, to look into her death, a lab technician named Katya is also asked to help, Nayir reluctantly accepts her help since contact between men and women who are not related is forbidden.
Besides being a fascinating mystery story, this book also gave me a look into a country with customs and rules much different than my own. At times I wondered what the Saudis would think of me, living alone, supporting myself with my own job and having a driver’s license also!
Ms. Ferraris explains these customs to us by making them part of the story, in the first chapter, Nayir is thinking about Nouf, imagining her walking through the desert with sunburned ankles, then asks forgiveness from God for picturing her ankles. The religious police are mentioned, we understand their role and the power they have by the characters’ comments about them and their reactions to the thought they might be around. In another situation, Katya sits outside with her father, without her face covered and counts the number of old friends of her father who won’t come near because her face is showing. None of this distracts from the story, Ms. Ferraris makes them a part of the story, the customs of the land play a part in what happens to Nouf and Nayir and Katya are bound by them while at the same time they are trying to solve the mystery.
This is the first in a series. I thought it was enjoyable and well written and recommend it.