Layers of secrets and a tradition of distrust complicate a mysterious Israeli murder case.
Visiting the Palestinian city of Nablus to see his grandchildren and attend the wedding of a friend, Lt. Sami Jaffari of the National Police, Omar Yussef (A Grave in Gaza, 2008, etc.) gets drawn by inches into an unusual murder. Sami spots him on the street, pulls up in a Nablus police car and drives him to a Samaritan synagogue, where the priceless Abisha Scroll has been stolen. When Samaritan priest Jibril Ben-Tabia reports that the Scroll has been safely returned, Sami and Omar Yussef prepare to deconstruct this obvious lie, but murder thickens the plot. The victim, a Samaritan named Ishaq who worked for the Palestinian Authority, was beaten, tortured and thrown down a hill. The cool reaction of Ishaq’s widow Roween to his death piques Omar Yussef’s interest. His discovery that the dead man was homosexual is the first piece of a complex puzzle set in a town a world apart from Bethlehem, where Omar Yussef works for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The local turmoil clashes strangely with the festivity of the upcoming wedding and, despite some distance from his son, Omar Yussef’s joy over his grandchildren. Rees probes the racial and political crosscurrents of volatile Nablus from Omar Yussef’s perspective as a Palestinian Christian who no longer drinks alcohol or believes in God.
The depth and heart in Omar Yussef’s third case makes it a tearjerker as well as a page-turner.