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Review: Kingdom of Strangers by Zoe Ferraris

Title: Kingdom of Strangers
Author: Zoe Ferraris
Year Published: 2012

Genre: Adult fiction (mystery)
Pages: 363
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)Saudi Arabia

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the back of the book): When a secret grave is unearthed in the Saudi desert, the bodies of nineteen women are discovered and a shocking truth revealed: a serial killer has been operating undetected in Jeddah for more than a decade. As the officials investigate, lead inspector Ibrahim Zahnani and Katya Hijazi, one of the few women in the police force, are drawn into a a dark underworld that exploits the most vulnerable members of Saudi society

Review: This is the third Zoe Ferraris book I've read and I really like her books! The other two (Finding Nouf and City of Veils) that I've reviewed center on the same main characters as this book, but you don't have to have read the others to understand this one.

I like the main characters in Ferraris' books: Katya is a strong woman who knows what she wants and that can be difficult in a country like Saudi Arabia where women cannot drive, usually don't work, and have fewer rights than men. Katya works with men every day in the police force, stands her ground (within reason), and finds ways to get around the rules to accomplish more than her job. Nayir, her boyfriend, is more traditional and religious, but in this book he is starting to realize just how modern/western Katya is and I like that he accepts it. Ibrahim walks a fine line with his relaxed views on women working, being in the presence of men, etc. He bridges the gap between traditional Saudi views and the western world.

The story is good as well. A serial killer has been operating in Jeddah for at least a decade and no one noticed. How is this possible? Because he kills Philippina housemaids, a group that no one really pays attention to. This book does a great job of showing the disparities between Saudi citizens and the help. If you like a good mystery and want to learn about Saudi culture at the same time, this book is a good one to read!

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