cover image City of Jackals: A Makana Mystery

City of Jackals: A Makana Mystery

Parker Bilal. Bloomsbury, $27 (464p) ISBN 978-1-63286-327-0

Set in 2005, Bilal’s enjoyable fifth Makana mystery (after 2015’s The Ghost Runner) finds the Cairo-based independent investigator searching for a missing university student, Mourad Hafiz. Makana’s efforts lead him first to a beheaded corpse and then to a person killed in a van involved in a tanker crash. The two deaths were of South Sudanese refugees, so they may be connected, but it’s not clear whether or how Mourad was involved. Makana wants to question Estrella, Mourad’s South Sudanese coworker in a fast-food joint, but she, too, has disappeared. Omar Shaddad, the owner of a string of pharmacies who employed the van driver, provides some leads, and Makana also discovers that Mourad may have been involved with a radical group. The suspense builds as various distractions conspire to slow Makana’s search. Bilal may not raise shivers—save for a sequence involving rats at a dilapidated palace—but he provides plenty of atmosphere. Agent: Euan Thorneycroft, A.M. Heath (U.K.). (June)