No, there never really was peace in the Middle East.
Six months into his tenure as Chief of the Damascus Prefecture, Nikolai Faroun has gone through four assistants, been abandoned by his German girlfriend and his cat, and been told by his superior that he has five days to solve the case of the corpse in the murky Barada River before the case is handed over to his rival Philomel Durac, who handles state security for the Sûreté. Why was beautiful Vera Tamiri sliced up, weighted down in a burlap bag and dumped in the river, a fate previously reserved for traitors? Did one of her many lovers kill her in a jealous rage? Was it her gambling debts, the shame she brought to her brother Umar and the family honor, someone bent on avenging matters dating back to King Faisal’s 1918 Land Trust? Or did the answer lie in a ledger Vera kept that seemed to implicate the five warring Damascus political/religious factions? A mute child at the Hotel Nurredine, where Vera and her lovers trysted, helps identity three suspects. Although one confesses, it’s torture, not truth, that makes him speak. Undeterred, Faroun soldiers on, withstanding enmities begun 2,000 years ago that fuel the area’s current political chaos.
Highland (Ghost Eater, not reviewed) is the perfect guide to understanding just how wrong-headed the Westerners have been about Levantine politics.