(photo credit: (Illustrative photo: MCT))
Unusual characters, unique settings and current events abound in the mystery genre. It should come as no surprise that the intricacies of Saudi Arabian society make for an exciting, probing mystery series featuring a devout, intelligent and independent woman.
As one of the few women in the Jeddah medical examiner’s office, Katya Hijazi wants her work to be valuable and respected. It’s especially important for her to help find justice for female victims living in a society where women are expected to live quiet, retiring lives in this “City of Veils” as demanded by Islamic law and tradition. Katya also wears a burka and lives a modest lifestyle.
Katya and her friend, desert guide Nayir Sharqi, investigate the death of a young woman found on a beach near Jeddah. The young woman was a filmmaker known for controversial documentaries that made her enemies. The case leads them to Miriam Walker, an American woman whose husband, a security contractor, disappeared the night she arrived in Jeddah. As the link between the two cases becomes apparent, Katya and Nayir find a culture of prostitution, violence and pornography that the government desperately tries to keep quiet.
In her second novel, Ferraris skillfully takes the reader into the
streets and homes of Saudi Arabia with an unflinching look at the
melding of religious and contemporary views. It is a society that most
Americans cannot understand, but Ferraris illustrates what it’s like to
live where the fashion police can arrest any man or woman for what they
deem immodest dress; a woman flying into the country unescorted may be
detained in a room marked “Unclaimed Women”; and a man can take “a
But Ferraris also balances City of Veils
She uses the relationship between Katya and Nayir to show how those who
are religious also can be progressive. Her independence and competence
at work parallels his beliefs as an orthodox Muslim. The two love each
other and are moving toward a deeper bond.
Ferraris won the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction for her debut Finding Nouf
which introduced her characters. In City of Veils, Ferraris, who lived
in Saudi Arabia during the 1990s with her former husband, continues to
highlight all facets of the human factor in a complicated society.– Sun Sentinel/MCT