Night falls on Damascus

Night falls on Damascus by Frederick Highland.  In the Syria of the 1930s, we find a Middle Eastern country nominally under the governance of a Western power, but split by nationalists looking to the future, traditionalists loyal to the old powerful families and criminals of all kinds trying to grab as much as they can.  In this setting reminiscent of current times, Nikolai Faroun, an Arab working for the French as chief inspector of the Damascus Prefecture, attempts to solve the murder of Vera Tamiri, unpopular with some for her progressive efforts to establish women’s rights and too popular with the dangerous men that frequent the casinos of the city.  The plot is sufficiently twisted, the supporting characters are interesting and Highland does a nice job of developing Faroun’s history and the secret he’s keeping.  Readers of Michael Pearce’s Mamur Zapt’s stories will find many similarities, but Highland’s story has a bit more edge and violence to it, relying on action to move the story along whereas Pearce utilizes a quieter, orally-based style. 

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