THE FOURTH ASSASSIN by Matt Beynon Rees

Book Quote:

“Omar Yussef descended past boarded-up basement windows and entered a short corridor. The wall was covered with posters of Palestinian children, hackneyed images of defiance and suffering, and political slogans that fatigued Omar Yussef with their posturing and sentimentality. He glanced over a photo of a burned-out car, three victims of Israeli helicopter missiles lying within, their bearded faces vaguely nauseous in death, empty eyes staring past the camera. Is this meant to promote the correct frame of mind for prayer? he thought.”

Book Review:

Review by Lynn Harnett (FEB 23, 2010)

On his arrival in New York for a UN speech on schooling in the refugee camps, Palestinian educator Omar Yussef goes straight to Brooklyn to see his son, Ala. But the door of the Bay Ridge apartment is open and the only occupant is a headless corpse about his son’s size.

His initial horror gives way to shocked concern when Ala appears, but is promptly arrested and taken off to a Brooklyn jail. Underdressed for the New York winter, disoriented by the hard-edged city, Yussef enlists the aid of his old partisan friend Khamis Zeydan, now the chain-smoking Bethlehem police chief, also in town for the UN meeting.

Together they take on the weather, the subways, the busses, the streets and the NYPD, particularly the Arab-speaking detective, Hamza, a Palestinian-American who has been assigned to Bay Ridge’s Palestinian section. Hamza navigates his communities with facility – and a bit of edge.

When his superior finds a Jordanian passport on the Palestinian victim, Hamza explains that Palestine cannot issue passports.

The lieutenant waved the Jordanian passport. “You were born in Bethlehem, Hamza. Do you have this kind of passport?”

“I have an American passport, Lieutenant.“

Ala, even before the police arrive, has complained to his father of his disillusionment with life in America where his computer degree means nothing and decent work is impossible to find. “We’re just another gang of Arabs to the Americans, terrorists or supporters of terrorism, anti-American bigots who deserve bigoted treatment in return.“

But in Rees’ capable hands nothing is quite so simple. Yussef, a secular humanist who rails at the corruption and violence of his own government, quickly determines he must find the murderer himself. His journey leads him deep into the undercurrents of Brooklyn’s Arab community where opportunists are just as likely to wield a cause for their own ends as anywhere else.

Since one of the strengths of this series is Yussef’s Palestinian milieu, it seemed a risk to set this fourth outing in New York, but Rees (a Welshman and a 10-year veteran of Middle East coverage) makes it work.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 4 readers
PUBLISHER: Soho Crime (February 1, 2010)
REVIEWER: Lynn Harnett
AMAZON PAGE: The Fourth Assassin
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Matt Beynon Rees
EXTRAS: Excerpt read by author and Page 69 test
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

The Collaborator of Bethlehem

A Grave in Gaza

The Samaritan’s Secret

Bibliography:

Nonfiction:


February 23, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: New York City, Sleuths Series, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

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