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Finding Nouf
Zoë Ferraris

Mariner Books
2009 / ISBN: 0547237782
Mystery / Saudi Arabia / Contemporary

Reviewed by L J Roberts

First Sentence: Before the sun set that evening, Nayir filled his canteen, tucked a prayer run beneath his arm, and climbed the south-facing dune near the camp.

Nayir ash-Sharqi, known as “Tracker” is called in by a wealthy and influential family to find Nouf. Nouf is a 16-year-old girl who has gone missing. Her body is found in the desert. So how is it that she drowned? Working, quite uncomfortably, with Karya Hijazi, a female lab worker at the coroner’s office, Nayir must overcome his natural religious barrier to being in a close setting with a woman, yet his longing for female companionship, to learn the truth of Nouf’s death.

This was a fascinating read. I felt I learned so much about Saudi culture and Islam. It was interesting to see Nayir’s struggles both with his own identify, being Jordanian and wishing he were Bedouin but feeling he didn’t really fit anywhere, and his conflicts with women. It is such a different world from what we know and/or understand. Unfortunately, I did feel those conflicts overshadowed the mystery, which was well-plotted and did have a very satisfactory twist at the end, but it held an almost secondary role to the character conflicts. I did feel Nayir’s progression in his conflicts toward women was much too fast. It served the story, but wasn’t realistic.

Reviewed 2011
© 2011