The Golden Scales (Makana Series #1)

( 5 )

Overview

The ancient city of Cairo is a feverish tangle of the old and the new, of the superrich and the desperately poor, with inequality and corruption everywhere. It's a place where grudges and long-buried secrets can fester, and where people can disappear in the blink of an eye.

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 ...

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The Golden Scales (Makana Series #1)

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Overview

The ancient city of Cairo is a feverish tangle of the old and the new, of the superrich and the desperately poor, with inequality and corruption everywhere. It's a place where grudges and long-buried secrets can fester, and where people can disappear in the blink of an eye.

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 …

Published on the anniversary of the revolution in Egypt, The Golden Scales is an elegantly written, thrilling story set in a city of upheaval, chaos, and corruption.

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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: 9781608197941
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 1/31/2012
  • Series: Makana Series , #1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 809,388
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 1.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Parker Bilal is the pseudonym for Jamal Mahjoub. Born in London and brought up in Khartoum, Sudan, Mahjoub originally trained as a geologist and has written six critically acclaimed literary novels which have been shortlisted and awarded a number of prizes. His works include: In the Hour of Signs, Travelling with Djinns, The Carrier, and The Drift Latitudes. He currently lives in Barcelona.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2013

    Great, likeable character

    The setting is in Egypt, which is always fun. There is some history interwoven and it is accurate. Enjoyed the character development. Makena, main character, is smart, intelligent, and so patient. It is a great read. I see the person that gave one star did not give a review, but was playing around with letters.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    The strenght is the setting

    I like mysteries that take me to new places or new professions.

    The strength of this mystery is its setting. Modern Cairo with its mixture of filthy rich and very poor (mostly the latter), a fundamentalist takeover of Sudan, the European presence of the Russian mafia form the background for this mystery. Very well done.

    It is not unusual the protagonist of the mystery novel to experience an extremely dangerous encounter toward the end of the novel. Not my favorite stylistic gambit, but, even in that context, the fact that the hero of this mystery survives is to far over the top, the book loses a star.

    While not part of the rating, some might find the ruthlessness of the new regime in Sudan disturbing - not pleasant reading.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2012

    Great Mystery Book. Looking forward to the next one!

    Enjoyed it completely

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2014

    Eagle2/8

    Interesting but to drawn out gets boreing at times wwhen you begin to wish he would cut to the end

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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