City of Veils by Zoë Ferraris is not the typical CursingMama reading material but something about this title and its subject matter drew me in. It could have been the headlines generated recently regarding the proposed Islamic Center in New York, maybe it was curiosity, and it just might have been a desire to learn and understand in a different way. Regardless of my motivations I am certainly glad that I stepped out of my literature box and had the opportunity to take a peek into the culture of Saudi Arabia and the Muslim religion while reading this engaging novel. The second in a series this novel easily stands on its own but I have to admit I wish I'd read the first (Finding Nouf) so I'd have had a better insight into the characters of pious dessert guide Nayir (a single man) and forensics lab worker Katya (a single woman) and how their relationship began.
Title: City of Veils
Author: Zoë Ferraris
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Pages: 440 (Hardcover)
On Sale: August 9, 2010
Women in Saudi Arabia are expected to lead quiet lives circumscribed by Islamic law and tradition. But Katya, one of the few women in the medical examiner's office, is determined to make her work mean something.
When the body of a brutally beaten woman is found on the beach in Jeddah, the city's detectives are ready to dismiss the case as another unsolvable murder-chillingly common in a city where the veils of conservative Islam keep women as anonymous in life as the victim is in death. If this is another housemaid killed by her employer, finding the culprit will be all but impossible.
Only Katya is convinced that the victim can be identified and her killer found. She calls upon her friend Nayir for help, and soon discovers that the dead girl was a young filmmaker named Leila, whose controversial documentaries earned her many enemies.
With only the woman's clandestine footage as a guide, Katya and Nayir must confront the dark side of Jeddah that Leila struggled to expose: an underworld of prostitution, violence, exploitation, and jealously guarded secrets. Along the way, they form an unlikely alliance with an American woman whose husband has disappeared. Their growing search takes them from the city's car-clogged streets to the deadly vastness of the desert beyond.