Monday, January 4, 2010

Book Review: The Samaritan's Secret

Title The Samaritan's Secret (Omar Yussef Mysteries)
Author Matt Beynon Rees
Rating ****
Tags mystery, series, palestinians, west bank, samaritans 

This is the third of the Omar Yussef mysteries by Matt Beynon Rees, who is the former Jerusalem bureau chief for Time. This is the first of the series that I've read.

Omar Yussef travels to Nablus with his family to be part of the wedding celebration of his friend Sami, a policeman. While there, they find the body of a Samaritan, one of about 600 left of this ancient people. The dead man is the son of a priest and was a financial adviser to "the old man" (Yassir Arafat), and then to a wealthy businessman. About $300 million in Palestine Authority funds are missing, and if the World Bank can't find the missing money it will put a stop to all its development projects in the Palestinian areas. No one but Omar seems to be willing to look for the money, and incidentally, solve the murder. Conflict between supporters of Fatah (Arafat's party) and Hamas means doing anything in Nablus is dangerous.

It was a little hard to get into the book because of how unfamiliar the culture is to me. On the other hand, that is also one of the book's chief charms. I really enjoy books that teach me about an unfamiliar culture, or profession, while giving me a nice mystery to chew on. In the end, there were some things I wasn't entirely clear on, but I enjoyed the book enough to want to read the first two in the series (The Collaborator of Bethlehem and A Grave in Gaza).

Disclaimer: I received my copy of the book free for reviewing it for the Amazon Vine program.

Publication Soho Crime (2009), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 288 pages
Publication date 2009
ISBN 1569475458 / 9781569475454

Posted via web from reannon's posterous


Matt Beynon Rees said...

Thanks for reading THE SAMARITAN'S SECRET. I'm delighted you enjoyed it. It was important to me that the book should be culturally accurate, even if that means a reader from a Western culture might feel a little stretched at times. Overall the book shows how similar we all are. I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the series -- there's a new one out Feb. 1 called THE FOURTH ASSASSIN, which is set in Brooklyn. There's a growing Palestinian community there. Best, Matt

Mary Amanda Axford said...

Thanks so much for the comment! I'll be looking forward to the fourth one, as I am to the first two.