For decades, Omar Yussef has been a teacher of history to the children of Bethlehem. When a favorite former pupil is arrested for collaborating with the Israelis, Omar is sure he has been framed. Then the wife of the dead man, also one of Omar Yussefs former pupils, is murdered, possibly raped. And, as no one else will, it is up to him to investigate.
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.
Omar Yussef, a teacher of history to the unhappy children
of Dehaisha refugee camp, shuffled stiffly up the meandering
road, past the gray, stone homes built in the time of the
Turks on the edge of Beit Jala. He paused in the strong evening
wind, took a comb from the top pocket of his tweed jacket, and
tried to tame the strands of white hair with which he covered
his baldness. He glanced down at his maroon loafers in the
orange flicker of the buzzing street lamp and tutted at the dust
that clung to them as he tripped along the uneven roadside,
away from Bethlehem.
In the darkness at the corner of the next alley, a gunman coughed and expectorated. The gob of sputum landed at the border of the light and the gloom, as though the man intended for Omar Yussef to see it. He resisted the urge to scold the sentry for his vulgarity, as he would have one of his pupils at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Girls School. The young thug, though obscured by the...
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).
Full Review (1031 words).
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