1 April 2009 0 Comments

Armchair Travel: Reviews from Eurocrime, Philly Inky, JC, Book for Free

My new Palestinian crime novel THE SAMARITAN’S SECRET gets great reviews this week on both sides of the Atlantic – and in the blogosphere, wherever that is.

On the “This Book for Free” blog, Shoshana writes that THE SAMARITAN’S SECRET “has taken me into a part of the world I wouldn’t have known at all. I have no idea that there are actual Samaritans left in these world. This book was an eye-opener for me. I know about the “Good Samaritan” from the bible. But like other things biblical, I thought they don’t exist anymore. Well, this book took me on a field trip in this part of the world. The mystery is a bonus for me. But what really got me into this book is the way it takes me on a tour in Nablus. I believe I can almost smell the place and taste the food. This book is one of the best armchair traveling tools I have encountered.”

In world of “old media” Philiadelphia Inquirer reviewer Peter Rozovsky (who blogs about international detective fiction) picks up on the way my novel handles the very current battle between Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions: “Partisans of Fatah, which Arafat headed, might squirm at a plot set in motion by Arafat’s massive financial corruption. Their Hamas counterparts are no more likely to enjoy depictions of a fanatical sheikh – or the glimpses of Hamas green as thugs beat up Yussef. But Rees is interested less in Fatah and Hamas than in the tortured history of the Palestinian people. ‘No one knew who would be alive the next day,’ a character tells Yussef. ‘You could be killed by the Syrians, the Israelis, the Christian militias, the Shiite gangs, by one of the other Palestinian factions, or even by the Old Man himself.’

In Eurocrime, Laura Root writes that: “THE SAMARITAN’S SECRET provides a sensitive and fascinating portrait of Palestinian life and culture, both at grassroots and the political level, imaginatively evoking the smells, food and customs of the casbah, cafes and bathhouses….THE SAMARITAN’S SECRET is an intriguing, complex thriller giving a compelling insight into the politics, culture and day to day family life in this Palestinian city.”

The UK’s Jewish Chronicle runs a review under the headline “Shlumpy sleuth lifts the lid on Palestine” which includes: “The Samaritan’s Secret is not as bloody or with as high a body count as Rees’s previous two books, but, like them, it provides a really fascinating inside view of Palestinian society. Not least, post-Gaza, is Rees’s skilful delineation of the war between Fatah and Hamas, here fighting over an expected tranche of funds from the World Bank. Hamas’s attempt to show that “the Old Man” — Arafat — died of Aids is cleverly deployed by Rees as a shameful propaganda weapon with which to attack Fatah. The exposure of further dark secrets, including that of the eponymous Samaritan, cast a useful light on quite how Hamas maintains its grip on the Palestinian street…Rees’s novels should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the Palestinian mind-set.”

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