Point in the Market
Mamur Zapt Mystery
Gareth Owen is the Mamur Zapt, responsible for political investigations:
a continual balancing act between Egyptian sensibilities and occupying
British interests. The current tale opens on a typical scene, with
Owen's patrol of the Camel Market interrupted by a slightly absurd,
but serious to the participants, slice of life clash, surrounded
by a Greek chorus of interested observers. These are true puzzle-based
mysteries, but the real charm of the Mamur Zapt books stems from
joining Owen as an intelligent and appreciative observer of the
comedy of manners around him, then applauding his wit and flexibility
in translating between British mandates and Egyptian reality.
arrival has magnified the gossip, intrigue, scheming, and conflicting
loyalties that are a normal part of life in Cairo. What used to
be simple interest is now spying. There's money to be made -some
of it honestly- but also from trading in arms or very non-Moslem
liquor houses for the soldiers. The occupying Brit's deposition
of the pro-Turk Khedive has removed any pretense of their being
merely background advisors. And the Turks themselves are across
the Canal, with the only question being when they attack. Egypt,
long a hodgepodge of nationalities, isn't sure who cares about Egyptian
interests or what those really are any more. Owen finds these political
conflicts from his professional life reflected in his personal life,
now that he has married pasha's daughter Zeinab, his long time lover.
Their mixed marriage has left them no longer wholly accepted by
either the British or the Egyptians, sure that they love each other
but not sure of much else.
the body of one of Owen's informants is found near the Camel Market,
leaving twin mysteries around who killed him and what was the message
he died before passing on. A rebellious young nationalist and an
heir to the Egyptian throne taking an unseemly interest in Zeinab
occupy two of the other rings in the Mamur Zapt's personal circus.
This is an enjoyable entry in a fun series: full of life, color,
humor and humanity. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
Crime [WWI Cairo, Egypt]