cover image Effendi: The Second Arabesque

Effendi: The Second Arabesque

Jon Courtenay Grimwood, . . Bantam Spectra, $12 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-553-58744-9

In the entertaining second entry in Grimwood's Arabesk trilogy (after Pashazade ), Ashraf Bey is now the chief of detectives in the fictional Middle Eastern city of El Iskandryia, located in an alternate future where the Ottoman Empire still exists. While tensions between fundamentalism and nationalism roil the metropolis in a way that will be familiar to followers of current events, Bey must identify and thwart a vicious serial murderer who mutilates his victims. Suspicion attaches to the cryptic owner of Hamzah Enterprises, the father of the woman Bey has fallen for. Terrorist outrages rock El Iskandryia—kidnappings, arson, bombings—while the inquiry takes the sleuth on a journey through the seamy underbelly of his adopted society. As with Pashazade , the book gains strength from its depiction of the warm if prickly relationship Bey has with a young girl he has assumed responsibility for, as well as from some surprising flashes of humor. Less of a classic whodunit than its predecessor, this unique blend of mystery, speculative fiction and political intrigue should attract readers across several genres. Agent, Mic Cheetham. (Aug.)