THE SAMARITAN’S SECRET – Matt Beynon Rees

The third installment of Matt Beynon Rees’ series featuring Omar Yussef, a teacher and administrator for the UN schools in Palestine, is THE SAMARITAN’S SECRET. Omar Yussef and his family have traveled to Nablus to attend the wedding of Sami, a family friend and a police officer.  The trip is concerning for more than the usual reasons that weddings are fraught with angst and anxiety.  Nablus is on the West Bank and tensions have become hostilities between Hamas and Fatah.
The Samaritans are related to the Jews but are not actually a part of that group.  The New Testament story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman demonstrates how far back the division goes.  The Samaritan community in Nablus is one of about 600 people, devoted to preserving their differences from the larger Jewish community.
When a Torah scroll is stolen from the synagogue of the Samaritans, Sami is asked to investigate the theft.  He  invites Omar Yussef to accompany him to meet the leader of the synagogue.   While there, Sami learns that the body of a young man has been found on a hill sacred to the Samaritans. The victim has been brutally beaten and it is soon learned that he was an aide to the recently deceased, unnamed leader of Fatah. The victim was the only one who knew the location of all of the leader’s money that had been secreted around the world.  He is also the son of the chief rabbi from whom the scroll was stolen .  Before anything of value is learned,  Sami is badly beaten, his arm broken.  Someone is desperate to keep Sami from identifying any suspects.
The circumstances allow Omar Yussef to begin his own investigation, slowly, methodically gathering pieces of information.  The suspect pool deepens when Omar Yussef learns that the young man may have been homosexual.  He has enemies because of his sexuality and because the leader of Fatah has trusted him with the deepest secrets of the group.
Since the locations of the money were a secret known only to the leader and the murdered man, the situation becomes even more  complicated when the World Bank demands the return of the money.  They claim that the money was donated from international groups who gave it for the benefit of the Palestinian community.   Unless the money is returned  to them,  Palestine will receive no further aid.
Omar Yussef is a teacher in the UN school, making him the only representative of that body in the area.  So the direction of the investigation and the guarantee of  its impartiality fall to him.  The slow moving man who thinks things through very deliberately is now the last man standing who can solve the Samaritan’s secret and identify his killer.
Rees weaves into the story the riots and killings that are a constant in the Palestinian territories. He also addresses the difficulties that arise for young people who have lived in the west and found acceptance there, an acceptance that doesn’t exist in a rigid Muslim society. Rees has lived and worked in Palestine and Israel and each book sheds light on the problems faced by ordinary people trying to live their lives in a place where political realities allow no one to be safe.
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1 Response to THE SAMARITAN’S SECRET – Matt Beynon Rees

  1. Pingback: AUTHORS N – R | MURDER by TYPE

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