Author: Gerrie Ferris Finger

Publisher: Five Star Publishing

ISBN: 9781432832216:  ASIN:  B01K8P912W

Terrorism, of all shapes and sizes, is the scourge of our times. Moriah Dru wants to avoid terrorists, and, in her business of tracing missing children, in her life as PI and ex-APD cop (that’s Atlanta Police Department), she seems to avoid it—not exactly by burying her head in the sand like so many of us (NYC folks and those directly affected in the U.S. and abroad are exceptions), but working in a related area (think of the terror of a child who is abducted and sold by human traffickers).

On the surface, her new client, Saudi Arabian prince Husam al Saliba, is only a distraught father who hires Dru to find his wife Reeve and daughter Shara. Has Reeve, worried about Husam’s return to his country after years of living in the States and marrying Reeve, abducted her own daughter? Is Husam intent on revenge for her on-again, off-again relationship with a fellow astrophysicist, said revenge leading to his readiness to take his child to his homeland where Reeve isn’t welcome because she’s an infidel? Dru discovers there are many other questions she must answer.

To the casual eye, this is a fairly standard mystery story, not a who-done-it, but about why Reeve disappears. Even the “kidnapped child” theme takes second place as Dru has to get past seemingly normal persons’ facades to discover the underlying secrets. What makes this mystery unusual is that terrorism does rear its ugly head, putting this novel far above those Higgins Clark class of who-done-its that really belong in Murder She Wrote reruns. I chose to review this book expecting exactly that.

Except for the blasé title—a takeoff on Arabian Nights (Husam loves to tell those stories)—this book met my expectations and is a fine example of mystery writing. I always say that prep for a novel writing career is better done with a journalism degree than an MFA. Even better, because writing novels is so competitive these days, and a new author still needs to put food on the table, work as a journalist is a fine apprenticeship. The future author will get some life experience too—there will be stories to write later that reflect this experience. Ferris Finger has followed that path and spins a good yarn as a consequence.

That said, her characters are a mixed bag. I find boyfriend Lake annoying—and he shares top billing (“A Moriah Dru and Richard Lake Mystery”), but Moriah deserves and could do better. I find Yazmin, Husam’s alcoholic and addicted sister unbelievable—he’s a bit unbelievable too. Some readers might find what the Saudis are secretly doing unbelievable too, but I don’t. And that’s where the author’s theme hits a home run.

I have railed in my blog for a long time about the duplicitous extended Saudi royal family. My suspicions of them started after 9/11 as some of their young, privileged members fled the country. I wondered why, like many other Americans. The author’s peek into life in that royal family might open some readers’ eyes. Download those famous twenty-eight once top secret pages from the 9/11 report now available, and you’ll begin to come around to my point of view that the Saudis aren’t even close to being our friends. There are no recent events that can change this perception—on the contrary.

While the author avoids much of this, she hints at it. If those twenty-eight pages had been released before she wrote the book, she might have included more (or simply not written the book, which would be a loss). Even so, this is a damning portrayal of a strange, closed, and almost extraterrestrial culture that pretends to be a friend to the West yet foments radical Islam throughout the world. At least the Iranians are open about their duplicity.