Grimwood's third Arabesk novel, like its predecessors, Pashazade and Effendi, skillfully blends a hard-boiled whodunit with SF and alternate history. In the Arabesk universe, where the Ottoman Empire still exists, twisted political intrigues and tensions serve as a challenging backdrop to the gritty investigations of Ashraf Bey, a genetically altered sleuth who may be related to the royal family. An attempt on the emir's life by means of a venomous snake forces Bey to probe his own parentage in order to identify the motives and the conspirators behind the attack. Bey's independent and spirited young niece, Hani, has a welcome expanded role as she tries to follow her uncle's trail. The plotting may be a tad convoluted for some, but Grimwood makes his imagined world feel real, while the ambiguity of the ending leaves room for more sequels. The author supplies Bey's backstory in a way that makes this reader-friendly for newcomers. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Ex-policeman Ashraf Bey (Effendi; Pashazade) accepts a job protecting the emir of Tunis, who happens to be his estranged father, from possible assassination. With revolution threatening to explode throughout northern Africa, Bey becomes more and more enmeshed in the politics he despises, finding himself seeking answers to his past and to his present in the fabled city of El Iskandrya. Grimwood evokes the sights and sounds of a Middle East that might have been in this elegant blend of exotic fiction and detective story, which belongs in most libraries. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.