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The Burning Gates by Parker Bilal
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The Burning Gates

by Parker Bilal

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These books keep getting darker, or at least that's my perception with this one. Makana has evidently built a reputation that gets him hired by some not-so-good folks, and in fact there are many not-so-good folks in this book. The backstory starts with the first Gulf War, and the looting by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait before they were pushed out. But it's set after, maybe just after, the second Gulf War under the second Bush, and the spew of dangerous characters and disillusioned idealists from that war as well, out for prizes and even more for revenge. Makana must walk a tightrope over these violent men as they each try to use him for their own purposes.

I had a few quibbles with the story. An obvious moment of cellphone sabotage goes unnoticed because Makana is so unused to cellphones, but wouldn't he have picked up on the classic manner of the maneuver?
Some dialog at the end of the book is repeated unnecessarily, pointing to careless editing. Police corruption is almost a caricature. Or maybe not. (I've never experienced Egyptian police behavior.)

There's nothing here that will derail the series for me, but it was a bit of a pull to get to the end of the story. ( )
  ffortsa | Sep 23, 2017 |
Set in Cairo an Egyptian investigator, an ex-cop, gets involved in a project that of course gets progressively out of control and more dangerous. An enjoyable read and not too complex a story. I enjoyed the central character, the investigator Markana, who had issues but not flawed as so many of his ilk are. I was somewhat disappointed that the location, Cairo, didn't seem to figure as strongly as I'd like it to.

Would I read another? Maybe. ( )
  martinhughharvey | Aug 5, 2016 |
Quite an intersting an unusual mystery set in Cairo in 2004. Makana, a Sudanese man who works as a private investigator, is asked to trace a stolen work of art by an influential and wealthy art dealer. The work has a tangled history, having vanished from Baghdad during the US invasion, and soon Makana finds himself entangled in the violent world of a powerbroker from Saddam's regime, who may be spinning new webs in Egypt under the protection of high government officials. The mystery takes a back seat to the setting, which is fascinating and almost overpoweringly rich. This is the fourth in a series that borrows from the American gumshoe tradition to explore contemporary Egypt, providing the kind of detail and texture that's missing from the news we hear (scant as it is).
  bfister | Jan 1, 2015 |
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In Cairo, private investigator Makana is called into the office of his new client, a powerful art dealer known as Kasabian. Kasabian wants him to track down a famous painting that went missing from Baghdad during the US invasion. All the dealer can tell Makana is that the piece was smuggled into Egypt by an Iraqi war criminal who doesn't want to be found. The world of art is a far cry from the shady streets and alleyways of the Cairo that Makana knows, but he soon finds out that this side of the city has its own dark underbelly. As he sets out to find the lost work of art--and those involved in the case begin to die in horrific ways--Makana finds himself entangled in a mystery that many have attempted to keep hidden. The trail will lead him back into the dark days of the war and threaten to send the new life he has built for himself up in flames.… (more)

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