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The Women of the Souk by Michael Pearce
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The Women of the Souk

by Michael Pearce

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ♥

I noticed most people from Goodreads rated this 3 stars..... It takes a particular reader to love & appreciate the Mamur Zapt, and I am one of the few.

Set in Edwardian Cairo, the Mamur Zapt was a political police working for the Khedive (the governor of Egypt and Sudan) at the behest of the English government in order to maintain the tenuous balance of ruling power between the two governments.

The Mamur Zapt is Owen, a Welshman, married to a Pasha's Daughter, Zeinab, (by his favorite Free/Liberated concubine)... Oh yes, and the humor of an educated Egyptian woman who is "free", outspoken, and refusing to wear a veil...

This entry to the series deals with women, at the time they started to become a force to be reckoned with.... thus making it a very interesting read. In fact one of my other favorites in this series: "The Snake-Catcher's Daughter" also dealt with a "modern" thinking young woman.

Marie, one of the Khedive's nieces, has been abducted while in the souk with her "boy friend", a nay (flute) player whom she wishes to marry. Normally a young woman that had been abducted would remain a loss, but Layla, Marie's best friend from the Khedivial (girls school), has taken things into her own hands (as has the Khedive's wife & sister-in-law) and has gone to visit the Mamur Zapt, pushing him into action.

Layla explains to Owen, that really she would have preferred to speak w/ Zeinab, allowing Zeinab to deal with the Mamur Zapt, but as Zeinab is a new mother, Layla & the others decided that it would be too much of an imposition on Zeinab.

There is a lot to this story: Kidnapping, Ransom, Politics, Drugs, Family, Power struggles, Class struggles, and from the beginning the Women.

It was often funny, as are most of the Mamur Zapt books, but the politics is there and they shed a light on the reality of imperialist power grabs, which can still be seen in today's political arenas.

An Excellent book! ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 13, 2017 |
The Mamur Zapt is assigned to investigate/solve a kidnapping in 1913 Cairo. He is an Englishman who heads the Egyptian political police and works for the Khedive, the Ottoman governor of Egypt. In reality the British run Egypt and the Mamur Zapt works for them while nominally reporting to the Khedive.

A teenage daughter of a powerful Arab family is kidnapped and it is never clear who has done it, even at the end of the book. The Mamur Zapt eventually sorts it out and there's a happy ending.

The best thing about the book is the wealth of local color about 1913 Egypt -- the class divisions and the growing nationalism -- as well as the prosaic trivia of daily life. The crime fiction is sub-par: bland and tedious, no excitement which is difficult to suppress in a kidnapping story. A couple of the latter chapters are dense and difficult to get through -- just a lot of fluff filler.

All in all, a disappointment. ( )
  BrianEWilliams | Sep 21, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0727886185, Hardcover)

The kidnapping of an innocent schoolgirl throws a glaring light on the tensions and injustices of pre-War Egyptian society in this absorbing historical mystery.

Cairo, Egypt, 1913. When schoolgirl Marie Kewfik is kidnapped, snatched away as she strolled through the bustling bazaars of the Souk, the Khedive insists that the Mamur Zapt, Head of the Secret Police, takes charge of the negotiations for her safe return. The Kewfiks are one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Egypt but, as the Mamur Zapt discovers, not everyone thinks it’s worth the trouble to secure the release of a mere girl. He also learns that there is more to Marie’s kidnapping than meets the eye – and the subsequent fallout will shine a glaring light on the dangerous tensions running through Egyptian society.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 11 Feb 2016 14:22:29 -0500)

Cairo, Egypt, 1913. When schoolgirl Marie Kewfik is kidnapped, snatched away as she strolled through the bustling bazaars of the Souk, the Khedive insists that the Mamur Zapt, Head of the Secret Police, takes charge of the negotiations for her safe return. The Kewfiks are one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Egypt but, as the Mamur Zapt discovers, not everyone thinks it's worth the trouble to secure the release of a mere girl. He also learns that there is more to Marie's kidnapping than meets the eye--and the subsequent fallout will shine a glaring light on the dangerous tensions running through Egyptian society.… (more)

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