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by Zoë Ferraris

Pub Date: June 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-07424-7
Publisher: Little, Brown

In the third of a series, a Saudi Arabian detective hunts a serial killer as his career teeters on the brink.

In the desert outside Jeddah, a Bedouin herder has discovered a shallow grave in the sand. Called to investigate, Ibrahim, a senior inspector for the Jeddah police, makes a grim discovery: 19 bodies are buried at the site, all women of Asian origin. All have had hands amputated, and three hands are buried at the grisly scene. Ibrahim and his team at first assume that the victims were all immigrants, brought into the country to work as domestics and in other menial jobs. Since many such employees are actually enslaved, their employers seldom report them missing when they run away. Without passports or resources, such women are easy marks for a killer who preys on those no one is looking for. Ibrahim is aided in his investigation by Katya, who is eager to escape her cloistered job as a lab tech and work in the field, a challenge in a gender-segregated police department. Virtue laws, requiring women to be shrouded in public, also forbid them to drive—they must be chauffeured by males, preferably relatives. When a Saudi housewife takes a taxi and disappears, Ibrahim immediately suspects that she is the first Saudi victim of the so-called Angel killer, particularly when her severed hand is left for police to find. The killer defies even the profiling expertise of American FBI consultant Charlie (a woman, much to the consternation of Ibrahim’s colleagues). Ibrahim’s chaotic home, shared by three generations and ruled by his tyrannical wife, Jamila, is no refuge. And his mistress, former undercover agent Sabria, is missing. Ibrahim faces a terrible dilemma—if word of his affair leaks out, he could be condemned to death for adultery. However Sabria’s disappearance could also be the Angel’s work. Only a woman—Katya—can help.

Accomplished prose, an intricate mystery and insider Saudi scoop make for an unusual and winning combination.