FINDING NOUF: Zoe Ferraris: Houghton Mifflin: Mystery: 305 pages
Finding Nouf tells of the mysterious disappearance of the daughter of a well-to-do Saudi family in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Nayir al-Sharqi, a Palestinian desert guide and friend of the family tries to help locate the missing girl. He is aided in his search for the truth about Nouf’s disappearance by Katya Hijazi, who works in the state medical examiner’s office and is the fiancé of Nouf’s brother.The author, who lived in Arabia for a year, has a very interesting idea: write a mystery set in an exotic and little known place, create a male/female investigative team and develop a relationship between them (and then, possibly, write more books featuring these two characters). Ferraris writes well, her descriptions of the Saudi landscape are wonderful and she gets many, many things right but too many impossible and unbelievable things happen in this book that, really, believe me, couldn’t have happened in Arabia (I lived in Arabia for nine years). Reading the book you’ll believe that you are gaining insight into the way people really live in Arabia and you are – but unless you’ve lived there it will be impossible for you to know when you are glimpsing life as it really is and when you are not. If you like mysteries set in exotic places you’ll want to read this one but …. remember, it is fiction.