THE GOLDEN SCALES

Written by Parker Bilal

Review written by Ayo Onatade

Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films


THE GOLDEN SCALES
Bloomsbury
RRP: £11.99
Released: 2nd February 2012
Hbk

The Golden Scales takes the reader into a side of Cairo that is not often seen or read about.  It is a powerful and touching story that is much more than just a mystery; it is also a social commentary that allows us to see the underbelly of Cairo.

The Golden Scales is essentially about two abductions that take place.  Makana an ex-cop and a refugee from Sudan lives on a river boat.  He can’t go back to Sudan as this would bring about his death almost immediately.  He is forced to attend a meeting with Saad Hanafi, a man assumed to be one of the richest people in Egypt and the owner of the most popular football team.  But what does Saad Hanafi want with Makana? 

Adil Romario the biggest star of the team has been missing for ten days and Hanafi wants him found.  Makana can’t really refuse the job as he needs the money and his new employer has this is abundance.  As he starts the investigation he finds himself not only in danger but also the fact that not many people liked the missing footballer and those that did were very few indeed.  He also finds himself becoming involved with a mother who has been looking for her daughter who was abducted over seventeen years ago.  When she is murdered Makana begins to wonder if she was killed by the same people that abducted the daughter many years ago.  Are the two abductions linked together?  Makana seems to think so.

The Golden Scales is certainly a multi-layered book.  Makana’s description of Egypt and especially Cairo is as atmospheric as one could expect.  The fear and the darkness is skilfully woven into the story and one is shown the seediness and bleakness of Cairo without it being overblown.  Bilal’s characterisation is also an integral part of the story.  All the characters  are so well depicted that their back-stories, their connections to the missing people and their own reasons for the crimes are well integrated without a hint of falseness.

The Golden Scales is not only an atmospheric socio-political crime novel that begs to be read  but it is also a work of fiction that would not disgrace anyone’s bookshelf!  For those of us that enjoy reading books with an international flavour and intrigue then you certainly won’t want to miss this addition.  I look forward to reading with anticipation whatever next happens to Makana.  Do yourself a favour and read this book.  You won’t regret it.

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