The Bethlehem Murders: An Omar Yussef Novel: (Omar Yussef Mystery Series 1), 1 Feb 2008, by Matt Rees

I love to learn Stuff when I read fiction. As anyone who knows me can testify, I know a little bit about a lot of things. I have no patience with stories that incorporate material which is out of place, fudged or wrong. Good fiction depends on a skeleton of good facts. This novel comes across from the get-go as being by an author who knows what he’s writing about. He says, on his Amazon page: “The aim of my fiction is to take real stories I covered as a journalist and to weave them together to make a single mystery. It’s thrilling crime fiction, but I believe it also gets much closer to the truth about the Palestinians and the way they live than anything you’ll read in news reports.”

Thus I have been completely absorbed by Matt Rees’s first Omar Yussef crime novel. I didn’t spot the date of publication when I began it: it is set in Yasser Arafat’s world of intifada. Sadly that world is with us once again. To learn about the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine – what the people who have to live with it feel about it, why it does not stop, and many other nuances of the conflict, has been fascinating. The murders that the book is about could only happen in this place under these conditions. I had a sleepless night last night because I had to finish it: I had to know – and the end is satisfyingly nail-biting (see here are mine – down to the quick!).

Not only does Matt Rees know his Middle East, he also writes lean, pacy prose; sketches his characters economically but with telling effect; uses dialogue to push the plot along and has plenty, plenty plot. Almost everybody and their auntie is claimed to be ‘the new Le Carre’ these days. Matt Rees might actually be the real deal.

Unreservedly: 5 stars.

Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed.

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