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The Golden Scales: A Makana Mystery (The Makana Mysteries) Hardcover – January 31, 2012
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About the Author
Parker Bilal is the pseudonym for Jamal Mahjoub. Born in London and brought up in Khartoum, Sudan, Mahjoub originally trained as a geologist and has written six critically acclaimed literary novels which have been shortlisted and awarded a number of prizes. His works include: In the Hour of Signs, Travelling with Djinns, The Carrier, and The Drift Latitudes. He currently lives in Barcelona.
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Top Customer Reviews
So, he talks about dirty cops and corrupted state officials, who have a lot of close ties with the rich the powerful, about the new dirty money that has been laundered in the country for the sake of some questionable characters from the former Soviet Union, and which allows certain people to make or to follow their own rules, about the city poor whose lives get from bad to worse, about the rich that reside in huge fortress-like houses, choosing to ignore all the suffering in the streets, and about the fear and the darkness that surrounds the local show biz, the sex and the drugs trade.
This novel reminds me of a crime story and a social commentary at the same time, and it's just as well that it does, if I may add. The epicenter of the plot is not so much the crime, as is the society in which it took place. A society, that back then, in 1998, was just as divided as it is now.
It all begins when some bodyguards of sorts, arrive at the boat where Makana, an ex-cop from the Sudan and now refugee lives. The men simply state to him that he has to follow them because their boss wants to meet him, and he just obeys, since he knows too well that he has no word in the matter anyway.Read more ›
Bilal also describes Egypt well - it's people, it's locales, it's vernacular language, and the political influences that shape the region. As readers we are able to get a good virtual look-seee around.As Makana goes about investigating he meets all sorts of people - football stars, film producers, politicians, struggling actresses, land sharks, Russian gangsters - each person for himself, wanting, grasping. Each of the characters in the book is well depicted, from their back-stories and their connections to the missing people, to their own motivations for the crimes. I loved the fact that even while this was a mystery novel, I got a sense of the socio-political climate, the life of ordinary people, the quality of women's lives and the ever-present corruption; the mystery didn't exist in isolation, it stemmed from it's society and it's culture and the nature of it's people.
This is an engrossing book, an atmospheric mystery and an engaging piece of fiction. I hope to read many more Makana mysteries. Highly recommended.
This is an absorbing mystery, perhaps a little overcomplicated, perhaps too reliant on coincidence, but redeemed by the strong sense of place and the intriguing characters. It moves at a good pace and holds the reader's interest. It's a strong crime novel with a very interesting setting.
In terms of sense of place, and the society in which the book is set, it was extremely well done. The ancient city of Cairo is not just the backdrop for the story, it inhabits the action. There's a physical feeling of the souks, and alleys, the dark corners in which the unknown lurks. Part fascinating and compelling, part frightening and threatening, THE GOLDEN SCALES paints Cairo as a place in which people could disappear. Some willingly, some not. It also paints Cairo as a place that provides some refuge for Makana, a former Sudanese policeman, who lives physically and emotionally on the outskirts of the society to which he fled when things in his homeland got very dangerous.
That idea of Makana, a refugee from violence, ex-policeman now living and working on the fringes, as the person that one of the most powerful, wealthy and dodgy men in Cairo would turn to when a player from his team goes missing sort of makes sense, just as the fact that the missing player is treated as a son of Saad Hanafi, gangster, developer, father, and man with a very chequered past, means that the choice of investigator doesn't make sense. There's obviously a reason buried deep in the mire of those who work for and against Hanafi, and somewhere in the middle of a corrupt and compromised political and policing system. In the middle of all of this an Englishwoman returns to Cairo, still searching for the daughter that has been missing now for many years.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was a "great debut". He is a good writer. I just didn't enjoy it.
There is a lot of cultural nuance - the food, the pyramids, the "swap meets", the economic... Read more
I started this on a recommendation from an unmet friend, I has a hard time putting the book down. It was very enjoyable, sort of like an adult Hardy Boys book from my childhood.Published 8 months ago by Whitehorse
Each Makana story is gripping, instructive, dark, nostalgic, heart-breaking. Fiction at its best.Published 9 months ago by Noir de Noir
Very underrated. A fine writer. Streets ahead of the semiliterate rubbish dominating popular fiction today.Published 11 months ago by Alex Carroll
I read a fair number of mystery/procedurals that are foreign - started with the Scandinavian, went on from there. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Kim10024
I just finished reading the three books in the series and the story flows and reads very well. I really enjoyed the descriptions, the ambiance set by the author, and the unexpected... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Altum
Although I can imagine that others will like this book, I just couldn't finish it. It didn't really grip me, although the subject seemed interesting and I love reading detectives... Read morePublished 16 months ago by R. Hellinga
Not surprising to discover that this author has written novels as well. I suspect that future mysteries will travel in that direction as this one already has. A good read.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer