I've long been looking for an Arab crime novel, and so it was with glee that I found this one (especially as I lived in Algiers for five years, where the book is set). Khadra (a psuedonym for a former Algerian army officer), has written three Superintendent Llob books, but I'm not sure where this one fits into the trilogy. Set in the mid to late-1990s, at the height of Algeria's Civil War (in which several hundred thousand people have died), when the police were targets for Islamic insurgents, the story has a viceral edge, as the hero takes his life in his hand every day when he leaves his apartment.
Both the story and the style owe more than a little to Raymond Chandler, as the disenchanted hero is tasked with tracking down the missing daughter of a powerful mover and shaker. The muscular prose tracks Llob and his sidekick as they trawl through the dregs of the city and the corrupt upper echeleons in their attempt to stay alive and find the missing girl. The story is full of twists and turns, as they deal with pimps, pushers, and perverts in order to find the truth. All against a backdrop where certain neighborhoods are off-limits to police, every rich person is slimy, and any package could be a bomb. It's a quick read, and over the top in kind of a pulpy way, but well worth it if you're interested in having your stereotypes of the Arab world shattered. This is apparently being made into a filmóhere's hoping the other Llob books appear in English soon.