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City of Veils

August 2010

City of Veils

When the body of a brutally murdered and severely disfigured woman is found on the beach in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Detective Osama Ibrahim dreads investigating another unsolvable housemaid murder—unpleasantly common in a city where the veils of conservative Islam keep women as anonymous in life as the victim is in death. Digging deeper, however, an ambitious lab-tech named Katya discovers that the body is not that of a disobedient servant, but Leila Nawar, a rebellious young filmmaker who has made more than a few enemies with her probing documentaries on religious hypocrisy and sexuality. Aided by her conservatively religious friend Nayir Sharqi, Katya is determined to find Leila's killer and uncover the mystery of her death.

Meanwhile, when American Miriam Walker's husband Eric disappears only hours after picking her up at the airport, she struggles not to worry. As ex-patriots living in Jeddah, run-ins with the religious police are not uncommon. But when Nayir and Katya show up asking about her husband's connections to Leila Nawar, it becomes apparent that Eric may have been mixed up in something considerably more sinister. By agreeing to help them find her husband and prove his innocence, Miriam puts herself in the dangerous path of his kidnappers, leading her far into the deserts of the Empty Quarter.

In this riveting sequel to her critically acclaimed debut Finding Nouf, Zoë Ferraris weaves an intricate plot of mystery and suspense, exploring the complexities and contradictions of life in Jeddah, a place caught between its role as the holy gateway to Mecca and a cosmopolitan city in an increasingly liberal world. City of Veils follows Nayir, Katya, and Osama as they unravel the connections between the murder of Leila Nawar and the disappearance of Eric Walker, while coming to terms with their own views of the strictures and tenets of Islam.

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"Ferraris brings her idiosyncratic characters and the extreme setting to life, in vivid and taut prose.... Armchair travelers eager to learn about a remote culture without leaving the comfort (and safety!) of home are sure to find what they're looking for."
   —Malena Watrous, San Francisco Chronicle

"A chilling literary thriller.... Ferraris keeps us guessing until the end, and along the way, provides a window into a fascinating culture."
   —Donna Marchetti, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"An adroitly plotted, fast-paced mystery novel.... Ferraris's characters are compelling and utterly human."
   —Diane White, Boston Globe

"Mesmerizing....Ferraris uses her firsthand knowledge to write books that open up a closed world."
   —Nina Sankovitch, Huffington Post

"Nail-biting.... Smart and thoroughly entertaining.... Tension is everywhere as Ferraris builds suspense."
   —Sarah Weinman, Salon

"Acute and nuanced.... Grips you with its portrayal not just of outlandish death but of everyday life in Saudi Arabia."
   —Peter Kemp,The Sunday Times

"Claustrophobic and totally original, this is modern crime fiction at its very best."
   —Joan Smith, The Independent

"The plot is thrilling, with plenty of twists and turns... but what makes this novel really extraordinary is Ferraris's knowledgeable and sensitive depiction of a place where religion [has been] used as a blunt instrument."
   —Laura Wilson, The Guardian


Publishers Weekly interview and starred review

UK Guardian review

Independent review

LA Times summer reading recommendation

Salon's Guide to Nail-biting Summer Reads

Slate's DoubleX Gabfest review

Kirkus Reviews

The Mystery Site

Monsters & Critics

Crime Watch

Neworld Review

Little, Brown & Company hardcover, August 2010, ISBN-13: 9780316074278
Back Bay Books paperback, August 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0316074261