In a blazing hot desert in Saudia Arabia, a search party is dispatched to find a missing young woman. Thus begins a novel that offers rare insight into the inner workings of a country in which women must wear the abaya in public or risk denunciation by the religious police; where ancient beliefs, taboos, and customs frequently clash with a fast-moving, technology-driven modern world.
The missing woman is Nouf Shrawi, one of several sheltered teenaged daughters of a powerful local family. Hired to track her and her potential abductor is Nayir, a solitary, pious desert guide of dubious origin, and a friend of the family. As Nayir uncovers clues that only serve to deepen the mystery behind Nouf’s disappearance, he teams up with Katya, a liberated Saudi woman who is engaged to one of Nouf’s brothers.
As they move closer to the truth, the pair’s detective work unveils layers of secrets. In a land of prayers, purity, and patriarchy, the dreams of mere mortals often go unrealized, and the consequences of misbehavior for both men and women are disastrous. The final revelation of the truth forces Nayir to confront his own attitudes about women and society and in his deepening relationship with Katya, to face up to his own long-denied yearnings for love and intimacy.
What a great simple cozy murder mystery with a Saudi Arabia theme due to the book being based there. Nouf goes missing and she is later found dead. Now here is the thing, the title of the book is Finding Nouf, but she is found within a couple of chapters. So what happens during the rest of the book? Well the desert guide hired to find her spends the rest of the book trying to find out whodunnit. I thought the book was about finding Nouf, not finding her killer/s. Oh well, set that aside and I enjoyed this quick read.
Loads of information on Saudi Arabia and the awful habits it has, especially with its women, how accurate they are? Well I have no idea, but I found it to be interesting all the same.
I enjoyed the descriptions of the roundabouts in Jeddah, weird and wonderful sculptures and designs in them, I checked quickly on google and there are a bunch of photos there, some of them are pretty cool.
I loved the main characters, Nayir the desert guide and the wild (for Arabian standards) Katya. This book is not all about the murder mystery but also the relationships in the country and between the two main characters. Don´t expect a fast paced read or any major thrills, just a good solid read. This is the first in a series of books, City of Veils and Kingdom of Strangers are the others.
Totally threw me at the end when I found out whodunnit. 3 1/2 stars out of five. Recommended to anyone who enjoys cozy murder mysteries