For decades, Omar Yussef has been a teacher of history to the children of Bethlehem. When a favorite former pupil, George Saba, a member of the Palestinian Christian minority, is arrested for collaborating with the Israelis in the killing of a Palestinian guerrilla, Omar is sure he has been framed. If George is not cleared, he faces imminent execution.
Then the wife of the dead man, also one of Omar Yussefs former pupils, is murdered, possibly raped. When he begins to suspect the head of the Bethlehem al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is the true collaborator, Omar and his family are threatened. But as no one else is willing to stand up to the violent Martyrs Brigades men, who hold the real power in the town, it is up to him to investigate.
The Collaborator of Bethlehem, first published in the UK as The Bethlehem Murders, won the 2008 Crime Writers Association's John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award - the prestigious CWA award given to the best first novel of the year.
The Collaborator of Bethlehem is an exceptionally powerful and highly readable mystery that opens a window for the reader into the soul-destroying conditions experienced by people living on the West Bank. Omar Yussef is a welcome addition to the world of fictional detectives and one we will hopefully be hearing from again very soon, as Rees plans to explore the full scope of how Palestinians live today through Omar. A second book, set in Gaza, is already with his publisher; the third book will be set in Nablus. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The Boston Globe - Thanassis Cambanis
Unlike many books about the Arab-Israeli conflict or news stories about Palestinian communities, Rees's book vividly captures the fabric of daily Palestinian life.
Starred Review. Though the story's conclusion offers a gratifying payoff, for many readers the real reward will be a more immediate sense of a distant and bewildering conflict.
Starred Review. Evoking a strong sense of place, this nontraditional mystery is bleak, philosophical, and powerful; an excellent addition to any collection.
Booklist - Bill Ott
Starred Review. Rees captures the human spark of daily lives being led in totally polarized, soul-deadening conditions.
The New York Times - Marilyn Stasio
In a world where civilization has broken down into “ignorant, simple-minded, violent politics,” this decent man commits the ultimate act of heroism — keeping an open mind.
In a city already divided by hatred, Omar Yussef's sleuthing is bound to be anticlimactic. But no one will forget his violent world.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Rita The Collaborator of Bethlehem It should be remembered that this book is presented as the start of a mystery series and not as a novel or scholarly work about the Middle East. As a mystery it is engaging and attention-holding and more importantly to me, it is memorable. I... Read More
Rated of 5
by James K. No cigar This is fiction but many professional reviewers have treated it as representing real life in the West Bank. From that perspective I was disappointed by the author's failure to explore differences among the many kinds of Palestinian interest groups... Read More
Rated of 5
by Vivian Collaborator of Bethlehem It is well written and gives a different perspective of the problems in the area showcasing the people and the dangers of living in a war-torn area. Portrays the everyday lives of the families and the difficulties faced by the people in trying to... Read More
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including the Amorites, Hittites and
Around the 14th century BCE,
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appeared. Around 1050 BCE the
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