In his first Omar Yussef mystery, The Collaborator of Bethlehem, (published in 2006), Matt Beynon Rees tackles the complex Palestinian world of culture clash and suspicion.
has been a teacher of history to the children of Bethlehem. He is a likable character filled with humility, humanity and faith in the power of knowledge. When a
favorite former pupil, George Saba, a member of the Palestinian
Christian minority, is arrested for collaborating with the Israelis in
the killing of a Palestinian guerrilla, Omar is sure he has been framed.
If George is not cleared, he faces imminent execution. When the
wife of the dead man, also one of Omar Yussef’s former pupils, is
murdered, possibly raped. When he begins to suspect the head of the
Bethlehem al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is the true collaborator, Omar and
his family are threatened. But as no one else is willing to stand up to
the violent Martyrs Brigades men, who hold the real power in the town,
it is up to him to investigate.
Author Anne Perry writes, “A beautifully written
story. I have walked the streets of Bethlehem with Omar Yussef, smelled
the dust and the fear, tasted his food, shared his anger and his hope.
His decency is a light in the gloom. I shall not forget him."
Other Omar Yussef Mysteries: A Grave in Gaza, The Samaratan's Secret, The Fourth Assassin