From Publishers Weekly
Set in 1930s French-occupied Syria, Highland's engrossing third novel (after 2003's Ghost Eater
) centers on the efforts of Nikolai Faroun, "chief of the Damascus Prefecture," to solve the murder of Vera Tamiri, a beautiful, modern woman from a prominent Damascus family. That a jealous lover is the culprit is only the most obvious explanation, and Faroun suspects more complicated motives behind the demise of a philanthropic woman working for social change in a politically volatile city. His inquiries disturb the unwritten rules and double standards—especially regarding women—of the many closed societies uneasily coexisting in Damascus. Born to a Maronite Christian father from Beirut and a Russian mother, Faroun is an unusual protagonist. While some of the murky intrigue is hard to keep track of, it adds to the sense of mystery. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Highland (Ghost Eater,
2003) not only sets his novel in 1933, he writes as if he is writing it in 1933. Readers who acclimate to the curiously antique prose, however, may find themselves intrigued by the carefully layered plot. Despite interference from his boss, threats from a colleague, and pressure from a well-connected businessman, Nikolai Faroun, chief of the Damascus civil police force, is determined to find the killer of Vera Tamiri, an ahead-of-her-time feminist activist. The case leads him from Tamiri's complicated life into Syria's troubled history and long-ago conflicts, whose repercussions are still being felt. And lest that seem too straightforward, Faroun has secrets in his past, too. This book has some problems, including the language, a too--stately pace, sometimes-clunky exposition, and an occasional lapse into cliche (the at-gunpoint summation of the case to the villain, for example). But Highland seems to have done his research, and readers drawn to exotic locales and intrigue-laden power struggles may find Night Falls on Damascus
right up their dark and winding alley. Keir GraffCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved