Effendi: The Second Arabesk Hardcover – 2 Apr 2002
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Effendi is as impressive as Pashazade, Jon Courtenay Grimwood's first novel of crime and punishment in an alternate-world Alexandria. Now the chief of police of El Iskandryia rather than a hunted fugitive seeking refuge there, the electronically and otherwise augmented Ashraf finds himself investigating both terror attacks against tourists and charges of long-ago crimes against humanity levelled against Hamzah, the man whose daughter he might have married. With the help of his equally odd and talented niece, the child Hani, Ashraf pursues his own unorthodox investigatory methods and his own social and political agendas; he is sympathetic neither to the elite who suck the blood of his city nor to the fanatics who seek to replace them. His and Grimwood's city is a place where past and future meet--where mediaeval barbarism and high-tech go hand in hand and every so often the reader is brought face to face with the ways in which this world is both the same as our own and radically different. Grimwood effortlessly plays by several sets of rules at once and is as accomplished a thriller writer--doing noir as well as he does courtrooms--as he is as a writer of his own, sometimes quite strange, brand of commercial SF. --Roz Kaveney
The dazzling Pashazade was always going to be a hard act to follow, but it comes as little surprise that the prodigally talented Grimwood has pulled off the trick. His way with a sentence has a baroque finesse that makes these unclassifiable novels as elegantly written as they are rich in imaginative energy. Ashraf Bey is fleeing from the US justice system. Is he the son of the Emir of Tunis? And is he the chief of detectives for the El Iskandryian police force? As the city falls apart around him, Bey has more on his plate than merely the question of his own identity. Some might call this SF (the US, France and Germany are attempting to dominate the Middle East in this alternative 21st century), but here is writing that defies category.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
The setting is North Africa - predominantly the vibrant independent city of El Iskandryia - but it's North Africa located in an alternative-history world where the Ottoman empire made it into the 21st century. As in the trilogy's first novel, _Pashazade_, El Iskandryia is a triumph, all crumbling colonial relics, moral policing and seedy tourist nightclubs, French cafes and calls to prayer. It lives and breathes through the narrative with a personality all its own, an utterly convincing extrapolation of that region's cities today, an uneasy and volatile mixture of Western and Islamic influences and attitudes and needs.
Having set up the characters and their mysteries in the engaging near-future crime story of _Pashazade_, in _Effendi_ Grimwood takes his material to a whole new level. The dual timelines - of present-day Isk, and the brutal civil war a generation ago - are deployed with a near-perfect grasp of pace, tension-building and emotional resonance.
On the way to a climax that pulls no punches, we are also taken deeper into several of the main characters, particularly Zara and Raf - and while a few of the underlying mysteries are dealt with, what remains is more than intriguing enough to take this reader into the third (and final?) novel, _Felaheen_. Highly recommended.
I surely don't know... But the best c'punk books are a good mix of technology, plot and person, all melded together to make a twisty turny voyage of a story.
This certainly is true of Grimwood's work to date.
With the previous series Grimwood set Clare Fabio up against the world... (even though she seems a minor character within each separate story, she is the main character - the driver)
In this latest series he has taken a character and put him at the head of the plot, with each of the two stories backed up by a series of minor plots. Like an episode of your favourite soap, you are immersed in the lives of each of the characters, from the cook in the 'aunts' house to the General and beyond. Each story lying bound to one another by the main story of one man trying to get on, to survive.
In this second book, after what appears to be an abortive engagement to Zara, we see Ashraf Bey still trying to do the 'right thing' with regards to his niece and failing abysmally at it. (you can disagree with that point if you like).
In comparison to other authors: In the same way that Chandler's character Marlowe mosied around his cases, allowing each case to solve itself, Grimwood's character in this series seems to be a catalyst for other characters to provide the story.
This latest book is an amazing novel, well worth the read, and certainly we should be thankful to the publishers for bringing this one out in hardcover. <applause/> Genious is infrequently recognised in it's own time.
As an aside - I am seriously looking forward to the next novel: (which I hear is due out in '03) and am trying to not succumb to the urge to pick up Pashazade again.
The only real fault with this book is that at times there's no real sense of danger. You know that despite the odds the hero will succeed. Now fair enough it'd be a pretty sorry state of affairs if the hero didn't win and the villain wasn't defeated, but it's still nice to have that doubt. Fortunately the times when the suspense is lacking are quite rare.
Grimwood has built on his El Iskandryia, a city at the crossroads of the major global cultures, and it seems much more alive than in Pashazade. It's very easy to imagine a city full of intigue and middle eastern style politics, a bit like a cross between Casablanca and Budapest.
There's still a lot of hi-tech gadgetry used throughout the book, but it doesn't get in the way of the story and is never too complicated or techy to understand.
Overall I though this was a brilliant book, The story is compelling, full of twists and turns and to be honest I couldn't put it down.
If you haven't read Pashazade, read it, then read this. If you've read Pashazade and enjoyed it, you won't regret buying Effendi.
You'll eventually like many of the characters despite them doing some bad things when you first meet them; as the story unfolds you start to understand the forces that made them what they are.
The parallels with current actual history and world terrorism in some scenes is very interesting. The well-developed background and settings,the fashion, dance clubs, remixes, pirate radio, vehicles, media, etc make for a very satisfying read.
When's the next one coming out? I want it!!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
JCG has produced another excellent episode in the alternative future city of El Iskandria.
The story features a wondeful mix of murder, mystery and politics. Read more
I'm not a wordy person, so I won't go into too much detail. However, this is another top book from JCG... Read morePublished on 23 April 2002
Through each chapter of Effendi, we follow the steps of Ashraf Bey as he tries to keep control of an ever-disintegrating situation controlled partially by others who want him to... Read morePublished on 22 April 2002