cover image Kingdom of Strangers

Kingdom of Strangers

Zoë Ferraris. Little, Brown, $25.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-07424-7

The discovery of 19 female bodies with their hands cut off in the desert outside Jeddah propels Ferraris’s beautifully crafted third mystery featuring Saudi forensic technician Katya Hijazi (after 2010’s City of Veils). Lt. Col. Insp. Ibrahim Zahrani, who takes charge of the serial killer case, turns to Katya for help with a personal matter. Ibrahim’s illegal Filipino mistress, Sabria, has disappeared, and he can neither investigate freely nor make his queries official for fear of harsh public punishment. Eager to move beyond her limited role in the female-only police lab, Katya agrees to visit the clothing boutique where Sabria worked in a women’s shopping mall. Katya also faces her own personal crisis—whether to marry the traditional Nayir, who’s uneasy with her unconventional behavior. By the end, the two cases change both Ibrahim’s and Katya’s lives dramatically. With intelligence, patience, and meticulous detail, Ferraris evokes a complex culture profoundly ambivalent about female power. Agent: Julie Barer, Barer Literary. (June)