An Egyptian detective is lured into protecting a maverick scientist in hiding from terrorists. But who’s the real target?
An unnamed orphan girl who undergoes intense physical training is offered a promising future. Meanwhile, Cairo private investigator Makana gets an unusual offer from the queen’s government, represented by veddy British Marcus Winslow. Chemical weapons expert Ayman Nizari is in hiding in Istanbul from terrorist leader Abu Halil, who wants to force him to make deadly weapons. Makana is asked to shepherd Nizari to safety. The clincher: Winslow reports that Nizari has information about Makana’s daughter, thought to be dead but very much alive. (Could she be that girl from the prologue?) It disturbs Makana further that he can find no record of a Marcus Winslow. Yet despite the risk, Makana feels that he has no choice. Every new person Makana encounters in Istanbul seems slightly suspicious: the bellboy at his hotel, the Dutch businessman who tries to strike up a casual conversation, even his local guide. Winslow keeps in close contact by phone. Because he doesn’t speak Turkish, Makana’s progress is incremental and slow. On the third day of his assignment, he has a brief encounter with Nizari, who flees before any meaningful conversation can transpire. But the closer Makana gets to Nizari and possible answers, the more menacing forces seem to confront him. Has he fallen into a trap?
Bilal’s sixth (City of Jackals, 2016, etc.) again plants a seed of suspense as an entree into a nuanced look at an unfamiliar culture.