Poisoned Pen, Aug 2004,
In 1912, Italy invades Tripolitania. Turkey declares war on Italy since Tripolitania belongs to them. Most of Europe wants to remain out of the conflict hoping that it will remain somewhat localized. British leaders choose a neutral path, but not all of the empire agrees. Though a British Protectorate, Egypt remains part of the Ottoman Empire and sympathies lie strongly with the Turks.
In Cairo, someone strangled to death an Italian-Egyptian Sidi Morelli, a resident for forty years whose warehouse contained weapons. Gareth Owen, the Mamur Zapt, investigates the homicide wondering if this is the beginning of an anti-Italian movement or was the murder tied to the guns? As he digs deeper and looks into several seemingly unrelated other incidents, Owen struggles with what he should do with his beloved Zeinab, who as she turns thirty wants a deeper commitment from him. As his own loyalties are questioned even by himself and Zeinab demands more of him, Owen wonders if it is time to relocate to perhaps Zanzibar.
As usual, Michael Pearce provides a deep early twentieth century historical mystery that brings to life Egypt under British control. The story line works on three levels (historical, investigative, and personal) that cleverly intertwine into a cohesive who-done-it.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner