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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 finished this book more than two weeks ago and have read other books in the interim; yet, I can recall the plot and most details quite vividly. That entitles it to be called a good book in my mind. The characters are ones that the reader cares about, the plot carries suspense and the blood and gore factor is minimal. It is enjoyable summer reading.
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 and individuals. The picture presented here is relentlessly downbeat and oversimplified. A very complex conflict is viewed through the single lens of one man's heroic struggle against what we are led to believe is pervasive and unremitting immorality on the part of just about everyone outside his immediate family, but especially fellow Palestinians. I doubt that Rees' portrayal does justice to the range of motivations of the protagonists and the varieties of resistance against evil that actually occur in such situations. It is to be hoped that Rees will harness his experience with this part of the world to a more nuanced plot in his next novel.
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 exist in an area where one can be killed in an instant.