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Night Falls on Damascus: A Novel Hardcover – December 12, 2006

5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (December 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312337892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312337896
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,797,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Srdjan Pesic on November 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After few major dissappointments, I picked up another historical mystery from my overflowing shelves. Luckily I stumbled upon an overlooked gem.
Syria in 1930 was occupied by the French, and the uneasy mix of different branches of Islam, Jews and Christians was on the verge of an eruption. And here comes a murder of a prominent, but for the time, scandalous women, Vera Tamiri.
Mr. Highland writes well with beautifully drawn autenthic details without drowning the puzzle. Hopefully this will be a beginning of a series.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on December 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In 1930s French controlled Syria, Chief of the Damascus Prefecture Police Inspector Nikolai Faroun investigates the gruesome murder of modern westernized woman Vera Tamiri. Nikolai always tries to do a thorough job, but this time the pressure is higher than normal as the victim comes from an affluent powerful local family.

Nikolai assumes like most of the brass that an angry jealous lover killed Vera for dumping him though who remains an issue. However, being a professional he begins to also look elsewhere amongst her friends, family, and business associates; especially the latter as Vera was deeply involved in many philanthropic projects demanding social changes to grant rights to the abused and oppressed women and children, who in the her mind were treated as being less than slaves.

NIGHT FALLS ON DAMASCUS is actually a complex somewhat convoluted historical mystery that brings to life Syria during the 1930s French occupation. Readers will follow the exploits of Faroun as he investigates the murder, but also learn how angry the locals are with the European neo-colonial occupation. Though two decades later, Frederick Highland's fine mystery will remind the audience of the Mamur Zapt tales by Michael Pearce. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this whodunit and want more appearances from Police Inspector Faroun.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zolma on May 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am a picky reader of mysteries and this meets the bill on so many fronts - the characters are developed and interesting, the story and background of the plot are intriguing and one really can't get the clues too easily.
Highland has opened a whole new world. Here's hoping that there are more Faroun mysteries in his portfolio. The author's website,, is also worth a visit.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By treatmefairly on July 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Whatever the author paid for editing, it was too much. Not only is the book full of cliches and filler, but it fails a simple grammar check in ways I've never seen before. There are many instances of missing or incorrectly used articles: "the," "a," "an." What's with that? All of this stops the reader. I feel like there are concrete curbs in the road that's the journey through this book. I'm very conscious of the author, instead of being carried away by the story.
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By Scott Doughty on January 6, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very pleased with this purchase.
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