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The Samaritan's Secret: An Omar Yussef Mystery    by Matt Beynon Rees order for
Samaritan's Secret
by Matt Beynon Rees
Order:  USA  Can
Soho, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Omar Yussef, the engaging protagonist and indefatigable amateur sleuth in two previous novels from Matt Beynon Rees, travels from Bethlehem to Nablus when the story begins in The Samaritan's Secret.

Yussef is a teacher of history and a keen student of Palestinian culture, and life has generally been peaceful and pleasant for the 57-year-old family man, but he is about to get an extremely troublesome immersion into the social and political maelstrom that threatens Nablus - a singularly dirty and dangerous town from which 'even the stones might get up and run away.'

As the friend and unofficial assistant of Lieutenant Sami Jaffari of the National Police, Yussef accompanies Jaffari on a routine investigation into the apparent theft of an ancient Torah from a Samaritan synagogue. Instead of larceny, though, Yussef and Jaffari find themselves investigating a grisly murder: that of the son of a Samaritan priest.

The dead man - with more than his share of secrets during his lifetime - seems to have had provocative financial, political, and personal involvements. The solution to his murder - more than a little complicated - will have Yussef following a trail that involves passions, violence, religion, money, corruption, and - as if you did not already suspect as much - more murder.

As an enthusiastically recommended murder mystery that has an intriguing plot, complex characterizations, compelling themes, and fascinating settings, The Samaritan's Secret goes a step further in being an usually vivid and candid portrayal of what might be the most complicated, least understood, and most regularly vilified cultural and political environment in the world - the Palestinian Mideast.

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