A Grave in Gaza

A Grave in Gaza

Praise for the Omar Yussef series: “The Collaborator of Bethlehem is readable and literate, and offers a vivid portrait of Palestinian life today.”—The Washington Post “Matt Beynon Rees has taken a complex world of culture clash and suspicion and placed upon it humanity.”—David Baldacci, author of The Collectors “Omar’s probe of a West Bank ruled by political intrigue, rel...

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Title:A Grave in Gaza
Author:Matt Rees
Rating:
Edition Language:English

A Grave in Gaza Reviews

  • Glenda

    is an even more satisfying read than the first book in the Omar Yussef series with a sprinkling of dark humor -- but how could humor be light under the daily circumstances in the Gaza Strip? The pace of the plot, the motives of the characters, and the atmosphere of the locale worked in this book to create a story that I kept me involved to the conclusion.

  • Ensiform

    The second Omar Yussef mystery, in which the UN school history teacher travels to Gaza with a Scot and a Swede to inspect UN schools. Learning that a teacher has been arrested for collaboration, they take it upon themselves to investigate. But with groups of gunmen such as the Saladin Brigades, Military Intelligence, and Provisional Security all jostling for power, Gaza is a very dangerous place. The Swede is kidnapped and the UN pulls out, leaving Omar to try to piece together a very complex pu

    The second Omar Yussef mystery, in which the UN school history teacher travels to Gaza with a Scot and a Swede to inspect UN schools. Learning that a teacher has been arrested for collaboration, they take it upon themselves to investigate. But with groups of gunmen such as the Saladin Brigades, Military Intelligence, and Provisional Security all jostling for power, Gaza is a very dangerous place. The Swede is kidnapped and the UN pulls out, leaving Omar to try to piece together a very complex puzzle of corruption at the school, betrayal, torture, a stolen missile, and many graves in Gaza.

    It's absolutely astonishing and admirable how much drama Rees manages to fit into this story: high suspense, plot twists, and danger (as no character, no matter how lovingly developed, is safe from a gunman or a roadside bomb); but he also paints a rich portrait of Arabic culture, the precariousness of life in Palestine, the sense of family and the sense of danger. Rees infuses his characters with human frailties and motives, even as he sheds light on the pervasive corruption – this is truly a world in which Omar is right to suspect everyone, even his friend the police chief. Erudite, gritty, and full of twists, this is a superb political mystery.

  • Susanne Kromberg

    A fascinating cast of characters (a Swede and a Scot who work for the United Nations, a Palestinian teacher who teaches his kids to take charge of their lives, a missing professor who has taken a stand against corruption, and the usual array of bullies who see opportunity in a crippled society). Shedding light on a new (to me) culture, and a crime that helps shed light on a culture and a part of the world I want to know more about. What's not to like? Hm, more violence than I would have liked, b

    A fascinating cast of characters (a Swede and a Scot who work for the United Nations, a Palestinian teacher who teaches his kids to take charge of their lives, a missing professor who has taken a stand against corruption, and the usual array of bullies who see opportunity in a crippled society). Shedding light on a new (to me) culture, and a crime that helps shed light on a culture and a part of the world I want to know more about. What's not to like? Hm, more violence than I would have liked, but not more than necessary, probably. I love Omar Yussef, frumpy grumpy idealist.

  • Richard

    Warming to this series, where nothing really seems to happen, but the persistent investigator eventually solves the mystery.

    The "detective" is a UN history teacher from Bethlehem, Omar Yussef who is sent to Gaza to carry out a school inspection.

    The mystery is why a part time UN school teacher,and university lecturer, Eyad Masharawi is arrested and how his imprisonment relates to the kidnap of another UN worker.

    Rich in the politics of this trouble piece of land, where life is a struggle and deat

    Warming to this series, where nothing really seems to happen, but the persistent investigator eventually solves the mystery.

    The "detective" is a UN history teacher from Bethlehem, Omar Yussef who is sent to Gaza to carry out a school inspection.

    The mystery is why a part time UN school teacher,and university lecturer, Eyad Masharawi is arrested and how his imprisonment relates to the kidnap of another UN worker.

    Rich in the politics of this trouble piece of land, where life is a struggle and death is just a breath away. The writing is descriptive, informative and over flowing with characters you wouldn't wish to meet on a dark night. Yet it is into this conflict of warring factions and gun-totting militia that Omar Yussef probes and unsettles those who would rather their secrets were buried in the sand.

    Often tense but with wonderful comedic moments, the body count rises and you fear for the one voice demanding the truth.

    Respectful of the people of this land these stories bring the trouble to a new audience and make the reader think again about simple political truths, good v evil and a righteous cause.

  • Steven Z.

    In 1984 I was studying at Hebrew University and I traveled to the Gaza Strip. I was shocked at the living conditions and the poverty I was exposed to. Reading Matt Rees’ mystery A GRAVE IN GAZA brought back memories of that visit. Rees presents the second installment of his Omar Yussef mysteries. Instead of the byzantine politics of the West Bank, we are presented with a similar environment in Gaza, but it seems deadlier. The dichotomy of Palestinian culture with its emphasis on family values an

    In 1984 I was studying at Hebrew University and I traveled to the Gaza Strip. I was shocked at the living conditions and the poverty I was exposed to. Reading Matt Rees’ mystery A GRAVE IN GAZA brought back memories of that visit. Rees presents the second installment of his Omar Yussef mysteries. Instead of the byzantine politics of the West Bank, we are presented with a similar environment in Gaza, but it seems deadlier. The dichotomy of Palestinian culture with its emphasis on family values and caring for others is juxtaposed to the villainous nature of politics in the Gaza Strip. As in his first book Rees blends contemporary movements ranging from rival “security” factions, the smuggling of weapons into Gaza from tunnels dug under its border with Egypt, the role of the United Nations, and of course the corrupt nature of Palestinian politics.

    The story itself reflects the goodness of certain characters, but it also reflects the sadness of what life has become in Gaza since 1948. People’s lives are at the mercy of political factions and they do not have much control over their daily lives. Though Israel no longer physically occupies Gaza, the rule of Hamas which interestingly Rees does not really delve into much, and the ever present fear an incident that will spark another Israeli retaliatory strike or invasion is on everyone’s mind. If you enjoy a good mystery with numerous twists and turns carried out by a politically “unsophisticated” main character, who lets on much less than he is aware of, then A GRAVE IN GAZA will be a satisfactory read.

  • Jan Rice

    ! That's what this book reminded me of--without the sex and incest but with more corpses piling up. Life is cheap if you're a Palestinian. The head honchos who gain the good graces of the Europea

    ! That's what this book reminded me of--without the sex and incest but with more corpses piling up. Life is cheap if you're a Palestinian. The head honchos who gain the good graces of the Europeans or the American ambassador or the UN can then do with impunity whatever they want with those for whom they're responsible since it'll be invisible, and can be as corrupt as they want to be. And the foreigners know it, too, but still they play a game in which many are expendable.

    This is the second outing for Omar Yussef, history teacher turned crime solver. He's in his late 50s and usually feels every minute of it. In his politically radical youth he spent time in jail--Jordanian, not Israeli--and subsequently had kept his head down.

    In Omar Yussef the author has given us a very human protagonist. One moment he's strong and clear-sighted; after a few indignities--no, make that traumas--he feels feeble and is left searching for his former toughness. One thing he is not is cowardly, facing down death with regularity this time around. The action covers the span of a week, while a dust storm blows and the bullets fly, until he finally emerges but without some whom we wanted to be accompanying him. The reader has to accept Omar Yussef is tougher than he himself knows.

    sat on my shelf for four or five years. I had some ambivalent feelings about the first book,

    ; although the author was looking at inter-Palestinian clashes, I was suspicious he was sitting in the background saying all the problems were "caused" by Israel. The website I found back then didn't dissuade me of that attitude, as I recall. And that's why this second installment sat on the shelf so long. It's a better book, though, and the author's current website doesn't sound angry.

    The poor author is trying something damnably difficult. He decided Westerners see Palestinians simplistically--either as terrorists or as victims. So he wants to challenge that perception, to reveal them in all their complexity. But maybe people don't want their perceptions changed. I think maybe they don't, and that that's why the books aren't being read. People who side with Israel don't want to see Palestinians as human beings. People who side against Israel don't want to see any Palestinians as corrupt and turning against each other--or, in fact, as fully responsible and fully human whether good or evil. The first book was released to favorable reviews; about 1300 readers have added it on Goodreads. This one that I'm now reading has about 600 reviews. The trend is down-hill, which is unusual for books of its caliber.

    This book was out of date at birth. Published in 2008, it must have been in the pipeline when Hamas took over Gaza the prior year. So in the book Fatah is still running the show. Although that didn't bother me (and I learned from it anyway) I'll look forward to seeing what the author has done to get back up-to-date.

    Matt Beynon Rees was born in Wales and lives in Jerusalem. He was previously the Jerusalem bureau chief for

    .

  • Roshni

    Not much of a mystery but more a spotlight onto the spiderweb of Palestine. People are not good or bad, heroes or villains, but are simply desperate, occasionally outwardly ideological, but always fighting for survival.

  • Ram Kaushik

    From his earlier novel set in Bethlehem, it was apparent that Mr. Rees clearly knows the region intimately. He does not disappoint in the second of the Omar Yussef series set in Gaza. Teeming with conspiracies, corruption and desperation, the Gaza pictured here is not for faint hearts. One sympathizes with ordinary Palestinians who are resigned to their fate and look to the future with no hope. The mystery itself is somewhat superfluous and the protagonist, a weary teacher walks through the dust

    From his earlier novel set in Bethlehem, it was apparent that Mr. Rees clearly knows the region intimately. He does not disappoint in the second of the Omar Yussef series set in Gaza. Teeming with conspiracies, corruption and desperation, the Gaza pictured here is not for faint hearts. One sympathizes with ordinary Palestinians who are resigned to their fate and look to the future with no hope. The mystery itself is somewhat superfluous and the protagonist, a weary teacher walks through the dusty streets of the desert while bombs, bribes and treachery abound. The casual meetings of a humble schoolteacher with the bigwigs of the PLO and the Palestinian Councils stretch plausibility but doesn't really affect the history and the atmosphere, which is the main takeaway from this series. Recommended!

  • Diane

    Don't usually read mysteries/thrillers but enjoyed this one. Was struck by the way the history-professor detective could barely keep up with unfolding events. He often felt less like an agent than a tumbleweed blowing in fierce winds. The main character is really Gaza itself, as well as a giant dust storm (khamsi) that dominates the story's timeline. The author is a journalist who lives in Jerusalem & so knows at least somewhat whereof he speaks. If I learned anything from reading this book,

    Don't usually read mysteries/thrillers but enjoyed this one. Was struck by the way the history-professor detective could barely keep up with unfolding events. He often felt less like an agent than a tumbleweed blowing in fierce winds. The main character is really Gaza itself, as well as a giant dust storm (khamsi) that dominates the story's timeline. The author is a journalist who lives in Jerusalem & so knows at least somewhat whereof he speaks. If I learned anything from reading this book, it has to do with the complexities of human and political relations in that part of the world, which isn't exactly new news. Good to be reminded though, as a corrective to what's available in American and western news media. Must have been satisfying for a journalist to be able to tell a more complex and layered story than news formats allow.

  • Eric Wright

    Rees' book, an Omar Yussef Mystery, takes us deep into the gritty, corrupt, discouraging world of Gaza. Omar Yussef, from Bethlehem, accompanies several UN dignitaries on their quest to inspect UN sponsored schools in Gaza.

    What they discovery is misery, corruption, and nepotism on a vast scale. The infighting between rival Gaza politicians/police destroys their ability to present a united from to Israel.

    The story includes death and danger through which the intrepid investigator Omar Yussef wea

    Rees' book, an Omar Yussef Mystery, takes us deep into the gritty, corrupt, discouraging world of Gaza. Omar Yussef, from Bethlehem, accompanies several UN dignitaries on their quest to inspect UN sponsored schools in Gaza.

    What they discovery is misery, corruption, and nepotism on a vast scale. The infighting between rival Gaza politicians/police destroys their ability to present a united from to Israel.

    The story includes death and danger through which the intrepid investigator Omar Yussef weaves his way. Unhappily, Rees, I'm sure accurately uses a variety of names and titles for his characters in keeping with Arab usage. How this bewildering switching between unfamiliar names, double names, and titles of repect left me scratching my head about who is who. Hence my reduced evaluation. Otherwise it would be a valuable book to read in understanding the Palestinian and the Israeli conflict.

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