A seasoned Cairo detective finds himself out of his element and immersed in personal peril in the hunt for a priceless painting.
September 2004. The street protests that rocked Cairo upon the invasion of Iraq have died away after 18 months. Somber private investigator Makana visits wealthy new client Aram Kasabian, who makes an ostentatious show of his opulent home yet requests discretion from the sleuth. Makana's friend, the artist Ali Shibaker, has put him in touch with the extravagant patron of the arts, who wants Makana to track down an Iraqi colonel named Khadim al-Samari, who is the key to a stolen painting Kasabian wants to recover. Many colorful types linger at the Kasabian estate, most prominently brash Lebanese dealer Dalia Habashi, who's not too shy to talk trash about Kasabian. Makana has earned his noir stripes legitimately; his wife and daughter vanished several years ago, and there's little hope that he'll find them again. His investigation becomes an unsettling journey into the political crosscurrents of Saddam Hussein's regime. And he learns too late that the secretive Samari is a dangerous man. The case takes yet another turn when Kasabian is killed in his home, not long after a disturbance there. A large circle of suspects, many with checkered reputations, add to Makana's challenge.
Makana's fourth case (The Ghost Runner, 2014, etc.) again
uses a mystery MacGuffin to comment eloquently on recent history and daily life
in a region unfamiliar to most Western readers.