cover image The Women of the Souk: A Mamur Zapt Mystery

The Women of the Souk: A Mamur Zapt Mystery

Michael Pearce. Severn, $28.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8618-7

Set in Egypt in 1913, Pearce’s 19th Mamur Zapt mystery (after 2014’s The Mouth of the Crocodile) exemplifies the main strengths of this long-running series—dry humor coupled with a subtle depiction of the tensions created by the British presence. For example, the British are clueless enough to introduce the Boy Scout movement to a country where for many citizens “tracking and living rough was the real thing.” Capt. Gareth Owen, the head of Special Branch, finds himself in a delicate situation after he’s sought out by a sixth-form schoolgirl named Layla. Layla is distraught over the disappearance of her classmate Marie Kewfik, who has been absent from school for over a week, and whose well-connected family refuses to say anything about her whereabouts. Recovering Marie, who turns out to be kidnapped, is made more difficult by the attitude of the girl’s uncle, who doesn’t like his niece or women in general. Witty dialogue compensates for the less than compelling main plot line. (Aug.)