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The Saladin Murders (Omar Yussef Mystery #2)

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  437 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
This eagerly awaited follow-up to 'The Bethlehem Murders' finds our teacher-turned-detective in one of the deadliest areas in the Middle East - the Gaza Strip.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Atlantic (first published January 1st 2008)
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Jan Rice
There is no single, isolated crime in Gaza. Each one is linked to many others, you'll see.

In Gaza, nothing is what it seems. The truth will be far below the surface. You can't predict how deep it will go, but you can be sure that it will reach out to touch other victims and other crimes.
(p. 30)

Chinatown! 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
Nov 05, 2010 Richard rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
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
Sep 18, 2011 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, ...more
Aug 26, 2009 Glenda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Grave in Gaza 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.
Steven Z.
May 27, 2013 Steven Z. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Oct 09, 2010 Ensiform rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
Jun 06, 2008 Ella rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These bleak mysteries are difficult to read in the sense that youd don't want to believe the circumstances are true, but you know they are. Wonderful writing and I love the main character. I really hope there are people like him in the Palestinian territory. It would be hard to hang on to your ideals in such a bleak place.
Jun 15, 2010 Jean-Luc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Je reste une nouvelle fois touché par la perspicacité, l'intégrité de "l'Agent O." Omar Youssef, ce vieux professeur d'Histoire, avec ses forces et ses faiblesses,qui s'improvise détective pour la cause d'un peu de justice dans un monde en plein conflit politique.Je suis impatient de lire sa prochaine aventure.
Apr 12, 2014 Yeva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the second in this series, so I was not familiar with the characters and some references to the first book were not something I could relate to; still, I liked this book very much and really want to read more from this author.
Apr 07, 2009 Fred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Omar Yussef is really a likeable character; a doting grandpa, who has the mettle to discern and confront a cynical world. Once again, a sad, yet enjoyable story which gives a taste of the nuances of life in and around Palestine.
Dec 01, 2016 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-novel
2.5 stars. I certainly could feel the tension in Gaza as I was reading this book. But I could not keep all the different factions straight (and maybe that is just how it in in Gaza). But I like Omar Yussef as a protagonist this time just as much as I liked him in the first book in the series.
May 23, 2011 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A GRAVE IN GAZA is the second book in the Omar Yussef mystery series. Omar Yussef is a Palestinian, a teacher in Bethlehem at a UN school, happily married, and devoted to his family. Circumstances force him into a role that takes him out of the classroom and on an inspection trip to the Gaza Strip.

What are supposed to be routine meetings with other teachers in UN schools rapidly becomes something else entirely. Omar Yussef and Marcus Wallender, the Swedish representative of the UN’s Relief and W
Nov 02, 2016 Shari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel gives a very good view of the everyday life, the enmity of the various factions, and the convoluted interrelationships in the Gaza Strip. Something we in the West do not pay enough attention to is what life is actually like for these people, most of whom have been pushed by necessity and fear of death into the narrow strip along the Mediterranean Sea. Nor do we understand that many of these Palestinian factions are not traditional orthodox Muslims.

Some of the most enlightening scenes
Mar 17, 2010 Randa rated it it was ok
Frankly I found this a very depressing read, and knowing that reality probably mirrors this fictitious tale in many of its grisly dimensions was very bitter to contemplate.
This is the second Omar Yussef mystery and it plays out in Gaza, a dump in every sense of the word according to the protagonists. The dirt, the sandstorms, the corruption, the religious zealotry, the garbage, the ruins, and so many deaths and corpses are the order of the day in that terrible place.

Omar Yussef comes to Gaza as
Oct 21, 2009 Spuddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#2 Omar Yussef Sirhan mystery set in the Middle East, this time in Gaza where Omar Yussef has gone with a UN delegation to inspect a school there. He is a history teacher and the principal at a UN school in Bethlehem, his hometown, so the other delegates feel he will have valuable observations. Their visit starts off on a troubling note--one of the teachers at the school has been arrested, not for his school work, but because he also worked part-time as a university lecturer and apparently spoke ...more
May 29, 2008 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Omar Yussef Sirhan is a middle-aged school teacher in Bethlehem, working for the UN. He is sent on assignment to Gaza to inspect the schools there. But on arrival he learn that a University professor in Gaza has been arrested on clearly phony charges and is in danger of being 'disappeared'. The professor had brought charges of corruption against the head of the University, a member of the Palestinian Revolutionary Council. Then Omar Yussef is drawn into a web of crime, corruption, murder, smuggl ...more
Kathleen Hagen
A Grave in Gaza, by Matt Deymon Rees, A-minus, narrated by Peter Gamin, produced by Audible inc. and downloaded from

This is a book which I would characterize as demonstrating all the problems in the Gaza strip. This is the second in the Omar Yussif series. Here, he has been asked to leave Bethlehem where he lives and come to the Gaza strip to participate with Magnus Wallender, from Sweden, in a U.N. sponsored investigation. They meet James Cree, an Irishman and the security officer.
Jim Leffert
Sep 25, 2011 Jim Leffert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In other mystery novels in this series, the protagonist, a Palestinian history teacher named Omar Yussef, has investigated crimes, as well as life-or-death problems, in scary, thug-laden West Bank settings such as Bethlehem and the Casbah of downtown Nablus.

These places are islands of tranquility compared to Gaza, a desperate place where human life is easily squashed out and where gangs and factions, both large and small, vie for power and settle scores using violence and torture.

This book’s “d
Patricia McLean
Rees writes a suspenseful, interesting tale. I was looking for a good mystery in the aisles of Powell's and I've been intentionally reading authors from outside the U.S., so A Grave in Gaza appealed to me. I loved the first lines and was drawn along by the story and the main character, a sense of chaos, and an omnipresent sandstorm, set the tone.

But as I read, I began to feel uneasy with the author's point of view. Rees is presenting the story from the point of view of a Palestinian, but his Br
Sep 23, 2010 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, kindle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rob Kitchin
Aug 01, 2012 Rob Kitchin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Grave in Gaza is fascinating and entertaining read. Beynon Rees seemingly captures perfectly the geography, history, politics and culture of modern day Gaza; the factions, fears, uncertainties, sights and sounds, and the cruelty and humanity. In Omar Yussef he has created a wonderful character – wise, humane, comic, dogged. The story is a well plotted and paced, multi-textual, credible, and remarkably non-judgemental, simply telling the story as it unfolds and leaving the judgements to the r ...more
Michael Gallagher
Matt Rees creates the most human characters and communicates such startlingly evocative warmth in a denuded setting that he spurs my desire to write. Through the voices and visions of Rees’ characters, emerges a story unblemished by judgement. People die terrible and often pointless deaths; yet, Omar Yussef, the protagonist cum detective, conducts his investigations untarnished by even the seediest of settings. Rees peoples the story with both thugs and caring individuals side-by-side and manage ...more
Kathy Scantle
Apr 03, 2010 Kathy Scantle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read about this novel in the Daily Beast, a news website. I read it was a mystery and that it took place in Palestine. The location sounded very intriguing to me and having the read the book, it was. It did take me a while to get into the book (probably at least 70 pages or more.) What kept me interested through those 70 pages was how well the author, Matt Beynon Rees (formerly the Jerusalelm bureau chief for Time magazine), described the area. I felt that I could smell the smells he was descr ...more
I somehow expected this to be a young adult book about living in Palestine. It took me a bit to get past my surprise that it is a mystery set in Gaza. It is not the kind of mystery I like - too much torture, killing, intrigue. However, I came to really like the protagonist, Omar Yussef (Abu Ramiz)and the picture of Gaza is fascinating, probably all too true, and horrifying. Definitely NOT a young adult book, but well worth reading.

There rare other Omar Yussef Mysteries but the graphic, senseles
Carlos Reyes
Dec 03, 2015 Carlos Reyes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
En esta segunda entrega, Omar Yusef, el primer detective palestino de la historia de la novela negra se ve envuelto en un círculo de corrupción en la conflictiva franja de Gaza. Esta vez, Omar intenta rescatar a un profesor universitario de las Naciones Unidas de unos secuestradores de la brigada de Saladino, sin embargo, aprenderá con sangre que en Gaza un delito siempre esta conectado con muchos otros. Este libro al igual que el primero de la serie es excelente, aparte de ser una novela negra ...more
Deon Stonehouse
A Grave in Gaza by Matt Beynon Rees takes Omar to Gaza. He is accompanying his boss on a UN inspection of schools when something goes horribly wrong. They arrive to find a teacher arrested and being tortured for uncovering an unholy alliance between the college and the police. Degrees are being sold, careers advanced without merit. One teacher tries to stand against the deception. Soon various thugs from a plethora of groups are threatening Omar’s very life. Rees creates these stories from true ...more
Oct 13, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even better than the preceeding book "The Collaborator of Bethlehem". Again I got confused with the characters' names, but I found this book to have a better plot. Lots of observations about Palestine and its current political state so the book conveys a despairing atmosphere and even the weather contributes to that. The main character, Omar Yussef, is determined to the point of endangering himself and those around him, yet he remains human in so many ways. He cannot trust the system to bring ju ...more
Ann Tonks
Apr 06, 2016 Ann Tonks rated it liked it
At the beginning of the book is the following quote:

"The crimes in this book are based on real events in Gaza....the killers really killed this way, and those who died are dead just the same."

This increases my ambivalence about this series featuring Omar Yussef. On the one hand, its a rare book that features the daily lives and voices of Palestinians. But it's fiction, written by a Westerner, so how "authentic" is it?

Regardless of one's political persuasion, its a interesting read.
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I'm an award-winning writer of international thrillers, mysteries, and historical fiction. I'm giving away a FREE ebook THE THRILLER CHECKLIST, a no-nonsense guide to get your thriller written. Get it here: My latest is THE DAMASCUS THREAT, first in a series about US ICE agent Dominic Verrazzano, to be followed in July by CHINA STRIKE. My Palestinian mysteries won a UK Crime ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Omar Yussef Mystery (4 books)
  • The Collaborator of Bethlehem (Omar Yussef Mystery #1)
  • The Samaritan's Secret (Omar Yussef Mystery #3)
  • The Fourth Assassin (Omar Yussef Mystery #4)

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