This is one of my favourite books I've read over the last 12 months, usually, I give my friends every detail of each book I read and we talk about it together but with Kingdom of Strangers, I wanted to keep the juicy details a secret so I could share this great book with my friends when I'm done!
Kingdom of Strangers is set in Saudi Arabia and centres around Ibrahim and Katya. Ibrahim is a well-respected police investigator who harbours a secret that could not only tear his family apart but sentence him to death in the process. Katya is a lab technician at the police station who dreams of being a successful and respected officer just like Ibrahim but unfortunately for Katya, the men won't even look her in the eye, let alone give her the work experience she dreams of.
Whilst the two characters try to push through their own lives, a mass grave is found in the desert holding the remains of 19 women, the police know this isn’t any “normal” murder as they soon come to realise each woman was of Filipino descent and was more than likely living in Saudi Arabia illegally, working (and being abused) as a housemaid.
Ibrahim quickly realises that to follow the last footsteps of these victims and try and track down the murderer before he strikes again he’s going to need a woman to go into the places that Saudi men can’t. When Ibrahim finally offers Katya the chance she’s been waiting for, it comes at a price far bigger than she ever knew, trapped between 2 cases with more potential victims found she is forced to work undercover to find the murderer as well as help Ibrahim with a problem of his own.
I absolutely loved this book, it had so much more than just a great crime storyline. As someone who hasn’t been fortunate enough to travel to The Middle East, I’ve never been able to walk the streets, taste the food or see the culture for myself, Zoe Ferraris sums up (for me) middle eastern culture in such a raw and honest way. She shows how difficult it is for women to be accepted within that society when they’re expected to be a homemaker and she shows the pressure put on men to stand up and be present in every aspect of their lives and career with no thought for their own health and well-being.
It wasn’t just the characters I enjoyed reading about, Ferraris is constantly talking about the over-bearing heat and the sand sweeping into people’s houses like common dust, you get a real sense for the world these characters live in, far beyond their own storylines.
There was a lot of information about Islam, Ferraris would go into great detail about the Arabic language, Islamic traditions and clothing as well as how (much like most other societies) religion can bring people together or tear them apart just as fast.
I loved the new knowledge this book gave me, it was open and honest but charming and exciting at the same time, if you can find this book used on Amazon then I really hope you’ll buy it as I know, no matter what background you’re from, you will absolutely love this book.
There is obviously a lot of mention of murder as well as gruesome injuries, rape and physical/emotional/verbal abuse. If you are sensitive to these topics then just be aware before you get into reading.
Go and get reading!