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A Grave in Gaza
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Adult/High School-Omar Yussef, principal of a United Nations girls' school in a refugee camp near Bethlehem, accompanies two UN officials on a routine school inspection in the Gaza Strip. Routine is quickly set aside, though, after a teacher at one of the institutions is arrested for accusing officials at the local university of corruption. Omar Yussef and his colleagues try to intervene on the teacher's behalf, only to be drawn deeper and deeper into both the open and the covert struggles for political power in Gaza City. When one inspector is kidnapped and the other killed, Omar Yussef is left alone to disentangle the schemes of various political and criminal factions in a last-ditch effort to save his colleague's life as well as his own. Gaza is less a mystery than a suspense novel. What mystery there is lies in determining the links between the various factions. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating view into a much-discussed but little-understood part of the world. Omar Yussef is a champion of the common people, those who try to live quiet and peaceful lives amid social and political chaos. Teens with an interest in the Middle East will find this a fascinating and sobering read.-Sandy Schmitz, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

In Rees's exceptionally fine follow-up to his highly praised debut, The Collaborator of Bethlehem, the Palestinian government in Gaza is a fiction: warring gangs collaborate only to loot. Omar Yussef, the principal of a girls' school in Bethlehem, arrives on an inspection tour of schools and is soon drawn into efforts to secure the release of a university lecturer arrested on a trumped-up charge of spying. One of his colleagues is kidnapped, a UN van is blown up, and a UN observer killed. At 56, Yussef is neither supersleuth nor superhero, just an honorable man striving to find justice for the disenfranchised in a thoroughly corrupt society, where violence is the preferred, indeed, the only tool of governing. A virtue of this outstanding novel is its prose: evocative and sensual in describing setting and character, forceful in moving along the action. A compelling mystery story and a sympathetic portrait of a wounded society, this novel is truly excellent popular fiction. Strongly recommended for mystery and general collections. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 10/1/07.]--David Keymer, Modesto, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

palestinian history teacher Omar Yussef travels from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, where he becomes immersed in local violence and politics, in this over-the-top sequel to Rees's The Collaborator of Bethlehem (2007). Omar Yussef is a modest figure, quiet and middle-aged. When a U.N. official asks him to speak to a kidnapped schoolteacher's wife, he soon finds himself in the midst of international intrigue, dealing missiles over dinner, shouting down police officers and militants armed with machine guns and rescuing someone from a smuggling tunnel. These incidents seem a bit extreme for an aging academic, though his charm and calm demeanor are almost enough to convince the reader. The zany plot is interesting despite its implausibility, and the richly detailed descriptions, complete with deliberately brutal details of torture and death, emphasize Omar Yussef's peril and the violent tumult of the Middle East. (Feb.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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