Felaheen Paperback – May 1 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Skillfully blends a hard-boiled whodunit with SF and alternate history.... Grimwood makes his imagined world feel real."--"Publishers Weekly"See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
To protect the Emir and to uncover the assassin, former cop turned private investigator Ashraf Bey, who may be another unacknowledged offspring of the prolific Emir is hired. The genetically altered Ashraf struggles to uncover who wants the Emir dead; he leans towards the North African rebellion as the source so he goes undercover as a laborer in the lair of the enemy the metropolis of El Iskandryia while his maybe ten years old niece Hana al-Mansour better known as Hani decides to become Uncle Raf's "apprentice".
The Third Arabesk alternate history Ottoman Empire Noir (see PASHAZADE AND EFFENDI) is a terrific who-done-it starring a fabulous hard boiled sleuth who is softened by his niece. The story paints quite a vivid picture of a world in which the Ottoman Empire still exists in the twenty-first century. The complex sty line takes the audience all over from Manhattan to the Ifriqiy Desert to El Iskandryia and elsewhere without missing a beat so that the reader knows this is the real stuff. Reading the previous novels would be worth the effort as they are amongst the best in the sub-genre, Jon Courtenay Grimwood cleverly intertwines the key elements into this excellent entry. FELAHEEN makes three winners in a row.
The warp-speed tale is colorful, incredibly convoluted and quick, and challenging: you've got to stop every so often to figure out if you've kept up with all the inferences and developments. With all this, there's more than a sprinkling of dry humour and sarcasm to whet the sharpness of this tale. And if you want to see a really hot and hellish restaurant kitchen, this is the place.
Despite the alternate history aspects - the Ottoman Empire and Imperial Germany still exist - this is a recognizable modern world, advanced technology, bio-medical tinkering (one fantasy element), and the contemporary range of mores we are now familiar with in the Muslim world.
A final note - I was pleasantly surprised that this not a travelogue with action thrown around some famous sites. It takes place where it needs to. Not a pyramid or sphinx in sight, but wonderful dramatic support from the deserts, kitchens as noted already, and boulevards.
An altogether breathless and entertaining experience.