City of Veils

By Zoë Ferraris
(Back Bay Books, Paperback, 9780316074261, 416pp.)

Publication Date: August 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Paperback, Compact Disc, Compact Disc, MP3 CD

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the August 2010 Indie Next List
“This is a book that overwhelms you. While it can be regarded as a mystery, it is also a commentary on the various cultures in Saudi Arabia today, and how everyone there -- male and female, conservative or not -- is adjusting to the contemporary world with all of it's contradictions. Zoe Ferraris does an incredible job of showing the lives of her characters with honesty and compassion.”
-- Martin Sorensen, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA


Women in Saudi Arabia are expected to lead quiet lives circumscribed by Islamic tradition. But Katya, one of the few women in the medical examiner's office, is determined to make her work mean something.

When the body of a brutally beaten woman is found on the beach in Jeddah, detectives are ready to dismiss the case as another unsolvable murder. Only Katya is convinced that the victim can be identified and her killer found.

Katya soon discovers that the dead girl was a young filmmaker named Leila whose controversial documentaries earned her many enemies. Was it Leila's connection to an incendiary Koranic scholar or a missing American man that got her killed?

In CITY OF VEILS, the award-winning novelist Zoë Ferraris combines a thrilling, fast-paced mystery with a rare and intimate look into women's lives in the Middle East.

About the Author

Zoë Ferraris moved to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the first Gulf War to live with her then husband and his extended family of Saudi-Palestinian Bedouins. She has an MFA from Columbia University and is the author of one previous novel, Finding Nouf. She lives in San Francisco and Lexington, KY.

Praise For City of Veils


"Zoë Ferraris delivers the Muslim The Da Vinci Code. It kept me up at night. I loved it!"—Ranya Idliby, co-author of The Faith Club

"A gripping, many times disturbing, story of murder and the search for justice in an ancient society at odds with a woman's fight for independence."—Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter

"An intense and thoughtful thriller."—Kate Furnivall, author of The Girl from Junchow

"Superb.... Ferraris is one of the most important new voices in crime fiction."—Michael Koryta, author of So Cold the River

"Lifts the veil on Saudi Arabia.... Ferraris weaves an engrossing, taut tale."—Cara Black, author of Murder in the Latin Quarter

"A fascinating, insightful, and remarkably balanced look inside a society unfamiliar to most readers."—Jenny White, author of The Winter Thief

"Exhilarating. Ferraris masterfully captures the nuances of the Saudi culture and its women, while brilliantly exposing the conflict between tradition and desire."—Mahbod Seraji, author of Rooftops of Tehran

"A marvelous book. Ferraris demonstrates the instinctive authority of both an elegant stylist and a born storyteller."—David Corbett, author of Do They Know I'm Running?

"Taut and intelligent, set against a troubling backdrop of brutality, oppression and searing desert heat."—Anne Zouroudi, author of The Messenger of Athens


"Ferraris shows how the clash of tradition and desire, especially for women, is fraught with danger both hidden and overt... She open[s] Saudi Arabia for mystery fans to reveal the true minds and hearts of its denizens."—Los Angeles Times

"Remarkable...Its mystery takes place within a culture that has itself largely been under wraps...It's the individual journeys of Nayir and Katya, who abide by their society's strictures even as they are frustrated by them, that elevate Finding Nouf to a larger human drama."—Entertainment Weekly

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