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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
This a fascinating novel that at one level is a crime story but on another level is a fascinating and beautifully written portrayal of life in the Middle East. At the core of the story is an examination of the relationship between men and women in a very different culture to our own. The plot builds nicely towards a satisfying denouement but the real pleasure is in...
Published on 21 July 2009 by D. P. Mankin

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Night of the Mi'ja
I chose this book because I thought it might present an intersting insight into a closed and perhaps misunderstood culture. A book by a woman based in Saudi - plus a detective story.

It was really disappointing - only really intersting only from a cultural perspective, (and I know so little anyway, any insight into life as a Saudi woman would have been...
Published on 22 Dec. 2010 by S C Thomas


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 21 July 2009
By 
D. P. Mankin (Ceredigion, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This a fascinating novel that at one level is a crime story but on another level is a fascinating and beautifully written portrayal of life in the Middle East. At the core of the story is an examination of the relationship between men and women in a very different culture to our own. The plot builds nicely towards a satisfying denouement but the real pleasure is in reading about the society within which the mystery is embedded. You can almost smell, touch and feel the scorching heat and desert sands (and sense the relief offered by air-conditioned buidlings). Superb.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent mystery!, 14 Aug. 2010
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S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This is such a good book, a really superior mystery, set in the unusual setting of Saudi Arabia. Nouf ash-Shrawi, the sixteen year old daughter of a wealthy Saudi family, disappears shortly before her wedding. Desert guide Nayir is asked to bring her back, but when she is found dead he investigates. This leads to him having to work with a woman, Katya Hijazi, which makes him very uncomfortable in the heavily segregated society he lives in. His loyalties, faith and culture are all questioned, but the author is at no times disrespectful of a culture so different from our own. Both Nayir and Katya are very sympathetic characters, that you care about deeply by the end of the book. It was a stunning debut, so assured and well written and with such an interesting storyline and characters, that you just hope she will write many more in the series.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense exploration, 3 Jan. 2012
There are so many explorations in this book. Where to begin? The title refers to the mystic night journey of the Prophet Mohammad riding his famed horse. This novel also takes us in a journey to Saudi Arabia where, thanks to a totally atypical murder investigation, we will explore the depths of many aspects of society, some of which we take for granted. Freedom of speech and movement, fundamental rights, relation between genders....all are candidly examined through people that basically lack them. However, this novel is not a lecture on all of that. Characters are fleshed-out, we care for them. Especially interesting is the main character, Nayir, who we see really entering a period of discovery and transformation through the events narrated here. For Nayir women are a mystery; he lives in a society where the segregation of the genders is strictly (even brutally) enforced and, an orphan from a very young age, there are no women in his small familiar circle. Acquaintance with other men's women relatives is out of the question. He craves knowledge about, and some kind of contact with, the "invisible" half of his society, and he will get this through investigating the murder of a woman. We enter this discovery journey with him. And after it, his doubts about the principles that have guided his life (and guide his society) so far. Extremely good reading, much more that a detective novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please note this book is also published as Finding Nouf, 6 Jan. 2011
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DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This was a fascinating read, particularly from the point of view of the interactions between Saudi Arabian men and women. Although based around a murder within the community, the who-done-it side of the narrative seemed secondary to the insights into such a closed society.

Nayir is a desert guide, often mistaken as a Bedouin. He is asked by the family of the victim to escort a private detective into the area of the desert where the body of 16yr old Nouf was found.
Katya, the fianceé of the victim's brother, is also working in the District Examiner's Office and she brings her professional expertise into solving the murder.
Working together proves especially problematic for Nayir, as he is extremely devout and finds any contact with women, particularly unveiled, supremely uncomfortable. It is a wonder that anything is solved at all, when both parties withold information due to embarassment and the family is rich enough to persuade the District Govenor's Office that it was all an accident.

A most unusual crime mystery that I would highly recommend. I have already borrowed the second book in the series (City of Veils) from the library and can't wait to get stuck in.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A window into another world, 9 July 2009
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Travelling Jen (North Yorkshire UK) - See all my reviews
Anyone who has travelled in the middle east will have been curious about the lives of people living in such a different social system. This well written and compelling mystery story offers an insight into the world of veiled women and their menfolk. I was hooked from the first page, fascinated by the unfamiliar world, enthralled by the whole experience of this lovely book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual journey and revelation of brutality, 4 Aug. 2012
This was a surprise. A book that describes Saudi ruling culture; a crime novel and a protagonist struggling with identity, religion and hypocrisy. The author traverses this terrain with a deft touch. Descriptions of landscape are deftly handled and you feel part of the landscape. The development of plot and characters is deftly handled drawing out the revelation with finesse. It is a good insight into the double standards that exist within a very hidden culture (cultures when it also touches on Palestinian in exile). The gender roles. It is also an examination of the psychology of power, entitlement and casual misogyny. The protagonist is admirable but also confined to a very narrow part of their soul and insight into the world. Claustrophobic indeed. Zoe Ferraris is a gifted writer and this a superb novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Night of the Mi'raj, 20 Sept. 2010
If you are looking for a good page turner with strong characters set against an unusual cultural backdrop there is everything here to entertain you. The Saudi setting, full of its paradoxes and tensions is a welcome addition to the detective genre. Having been to Saudi I was eager to see how this narrative would work with the relationship between the two investigators: the desert guide Nayir and his forensic counterpart, Katya,in a society where the contact between the sexes is so regulated. Ferraris has certainly captured the humanity that emerges despite the repressive strictures of the Saudi society. Also, by giving the reader the perspective of the sympathetic Nayir she manages to avoid cliches and western preconceptions. We know that the lives of Saudi women are severely restricted but what is revealing is the awkwardness this can create for men when they cannot interact without anxiety. Because of their cloisturing, women become strange creatures, ironically showing that they exert a power while being powerless. The female 'flasher' was a true revelation! Both main characters are immediately engaging and this has all the makings of a successful series. If anything, the detective aspect was secondary and the fascination lay in the characterisation and the culture. A good book group choice giving plenty of discussion points from a 'good read'.I look forward to 'City of Veils'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superior crime novel with an arabian twist, 17 Sept. 2011
By 
Elizabeth Taylor (France) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed this book, firstly because its a good crime novel and secondly because it describes life in modern day Saudi Arabia from a man and women's perspective and that strangeness was as captivating and perhaps more fascinating than the storyline.
The story is that of a young girl found murdered in the desert, she comes from a wealthy but religious and respected family. The brother of this girl asks a friend - of more lowly origin to investigate the death - as the police it seems are not overly interested nor is autopsy allowed by the state. In his investigation Nayir who has almost no experience of dealing with women on any level other than remote - has to deal with an intelligent working and somewhat demanding women in that she wants a career and independence.

The investigation is well paced and a good page turner leaving you guessing until the end. The view of Saudi life from our two protagonist's view is really the differentiator from a crime novel perspective and a great way to learn about daily life without reading a political statement or non-fiction. If you like crime and wonder what life is like in modern Saudi Arabia a really interesting and recommended holiday read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life behind the veil in Saudi, 18 Dec. 2010
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I loved this book and so did my reading group, male and female members alike. Such a fascinating view on life governed by so many religious rules, difficult for both men and women to observe.

Loosely, a crime novel, but not really of that genre, because the main interest is life in a Saudi Arabian community.

A young woman, allowed to work as a forensic assistant, (unusually), and a desert guide, team up to investigate the death of a female friend, a death which appears to be going to be covered up as a suicide by the influential family from whom she comes. Neither of them really believes that it was a suicide, and they set about an unofficial investigation, hampered by her veil and by the guide's strict religious outlook.

It is written with delicacy and great prose and without apparent bias. Quite fascinating - I bought it for both my daughters for Christmas, it is a book that everyone should read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read, 19 Sept. 2010
The author knows her subject well and has used her characters, setting and plot to reveal her knowledge of the country in which the story is set. She makes no judgement of whether she agrees or disagrees with the laws of Saudi Arabia - she leaves this to the reader. The central characters are well developed and as readers we become absorbed in their problems and then also we become supportive of them; the plot keeps the reader focused because unless the readers are knowledgeable of Saudi law we must pay close attention as to how death/murder is dealt with in this country. The description of the setting is realistic giving the readers an opportunity to experience it even though they may not have set foot in the overwhelming and inhospitable environment of the desert. Altogether a very interesting read - I would certainly purchase her new novel "City of Veils".
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The Night Of The Mi'raj
The Night Of The Mi'raj by Zoe Ferraris
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