The Golden Scales (Makana Series #1)

The Golden Scales (Makana Series #1)

4.2 10
by Parker Bilal
     
 

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In this fresh, absorbing Egyptian mystery, Makana, a former Sudanese police inspector forced to flee to Cairo, is now struggling to make ends meet as a private detective. In need of money, he takes a case from the notoriously corrupt mogul Saad Hanafi, owner of a Cairo soccer team, whose star player, Adil Romario, has gone missing. Soon, Makana is caught up in a

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Overview

In this fresh, absorbing Egyptian mystery, Makana, a former Sudanese police inspector forced to flee to Cairo, is now struggling to make ends meet as a private detective. In need of money, he takes a case from the notoriously corrupt mogul Saad Hanafi, owner of a Cairo soccer team, whose star player, Adil Romario, has gone missing. Soon, Makana is caught up in a mystery that takes him into the treacherous underbelly of his adopted city, encountering Muslim extremists, Russian gangsters, vengeful women, and a desperate mother hunting for her missing daughter-a trail that leads him back into his own story, stirring up painful personal memories and bringing him face-to-face with an old enemy from his past . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bilal (Traveling with Djinns) deftly weaves past and present in this complex and compelling mystery set in 1998 Cairo. When corrupt and devious tycoon Saad Hanafi asks PI Makana to find Adil Romario, Hanafi’s missing star soccer player, the trail leads to a closely intertwined group of sleazy film directors, disillusioned starlets, Russian mobsters, and assorted crime lords. Further investigation shows that some of Makana’s unsavory and violent contacts have ties going back decades and may even have been involved in the unsolved disappearance of a four-year-old English girl 17 years earlier and the present-day torture and murder of her mother. The details of the case resonate with Makana’s own tragic past. Despite almost constant verbal and physical assault, the tenacious Makana persists in his interviews, with his chances of staying alive dwindling with each one. Wonderfully detailed, the narrative reveals Cairo as teeming, chaotic, and ungovernable. One looks forward to the sequel. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Bilal, the pseudonym of the Anglo-Sudanese literary author Jamal Mahjoub (The Drift Latitudes), introduces ex-police inspector Makana, a Sudanese political exile now living in Cairo. Hired by a shady Egyptian plutocrat to find a missing soccer star, Makana is also confronted with another mystery, that of a murdered British woman and her long-missing daughter. The twin plots interplay against artful descriptions of modern-day Cairo and haunting flashbacks to political unrest in the Sudan. Lyrical, descriptive passages—hard for many mystery writers—flourish here, but the stock-in-trade action scenes (especially the execrable prolog) are weak. The plotting is clumsy, the suspense is negligible, and the mystery's ultimate denouement is evident chapters before it is announced. VERDICT This series debut is worth the read for settings and descriptions, if not for plot, which reminds one, curiously, of Elmore Leonard on a bad day or of a reverse-view version of an Ian Fleming James-Bond-as-colonialist yarn. A cartoon caper in a glorious setting.—David Clendinning, West Virginia State Univ. Lib., Institute
Kirkus Reviews
A Sudanese detective climbs out of personal devastation in his new homeland and turns private eye. In 1981, British tourist Liz Markham, making an impulsive trip to Cairo with her young daughter Alice, loses her during a tumultuous night on its dark streets. Thirty years later, Makana, an émigré from Sudan (where he was a police inspector), has spent seven years in Egypt living a hand-to-mouth existence. But a possible lifeline comes with an unexpected summons from one of the country's richest men, Saad Hanafi, whose past is checkered, to say the least. Hanafi owns an immensely successful soccer squad, Hanafi Dreem Team, whose popularity crosses national borders. Handsome Dreem Teem player Adil Romario, whose face adorns ads for everything from soft drinks to sports cars, has disappeared. The playboy simply may be blowing off steam, but Hanafi figures better safe than sorry. Hired to find Romario, Makana consults his friend Amin Medani, a human-rights lawyer, who explains Hanafi's deep and perhaps dangerous political connections. When Makana encounters Liz Markham, she tells the sad story of her lost daughter, whose disappearance has left her still raw with pain. Moved in part by personal demons that make him especially receptive to Liz, Makana offers to help her as well. He develops an unlikely friendship with Hanafi's pampered daughter Soraya, an unexpected aid with his search as well as his personal issues.

Bilal's portrait of a soulful, broken man dominates his series kickoff, both an accomplished genre caper and a fine example of literary fiction.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781408824894
Publisher:
Bloomsbury UK
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Series:
Makana Series, #1

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