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Jerusalem-based writer Matt Rees's first novel in his Omar Yussef series has won its first big prize. Last week in London, The Bethlehem Murders (called The Collaborator of Bethlehem in the US) was awarded the Crime Writers Association's John Creasey New Blood Dagger, the CWA's prestigious award for a first novel. The Welsh-born Rees was given a dagger and Â£1,000. In awarding Rees, the judges said: "The intensity and integrity of the novel gave it credibility and placed the crime into its social and political context. The scenes of destruction and terror in Bethlehem are well explored and the characterization excellent. An excellent debut novel." The novel is also nominated in the US for the Barry and Macavity awards.
The second book in the Omar Yussef series, The Saladin Murders ( A Grave in Gaza in the US), is already receiving great reviews and the third novel, in which Omar finds himself caught in a sinister murder mystery in Nablus, will be out early next year under the title The Samaritan's Secret.