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A Grave in Gaza (Omar Yussef Mystery #2)

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  320 ratings  ·  65 reviews
“In A Grave in Gaza, Omar Yussef and his boss,Magnus Wallender, travel to the Gaza Strip for a routine inspection of the UN schools in the Gaza refugee camps.Upon their arrival they meet James Cree, the UN security officer for Gaza, who informs them that a teacher at one of their schools has been accused of spying and imprisoned. As they try to free the teacher and keep a...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 18th 2009 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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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...more
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...more
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jim Leffert
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...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....more
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
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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...more

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...more
Steven Z.
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
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...more
#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
the visual images were great, but the plot left something to be desired. Perhaps there really is that kind of widespread evil and corruption in Gaza, or anywhere else, but somehow it didn't ring true. And it was hard to reconcile the main character's statements about himself and his health with his actions. I wanted to like the book, but not recommend it to others or be eager to read his others, except perhaps because of the setting.
Rob Kitchin
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
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
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.
Kathy Scantle
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...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
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
another great book in this series
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
Megan Pursell
This is the second in a series of mysteries with the sleuth a Palestinian principal living in the West Bank.

This book is set in Gaza (duh!) and a grim experience it depicts. The whirlwind set of events, betrayals, rival factions, rival terror groups may be very realistic but damn depressing. I found the main character interesting (I've reserved others in the series) but this particular set of rivals hard to keep track of sometimes.

So, where else are you going to read a novel in Gaza?
Susannah Skyer Gupta
I was surprised how much I liked this. I picked it up off the library's New Books shelf because I liked the title and the setting ... ended up liking the main character as well. The writing is hackneyed in places, but that doesn't detract from a to-me fascinating setting and enough character development (of Omar Yussef anyway) to keep me reading. I have the first book (Collaborator of Bethlehem) out from the library right now.
Boy, is this a depressing and twisty book. The protagonist is a head of school in Bethlehem who goes to Gaza with the UN to inspect schools. Everything goes downhill from there, with people dying every other page because somebody bumped into somebody else who had some other political motive for making someone else happy. Maybe that's the way things are in Gaza; I have no idea, but it's not any fun to read.
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I'm an award-winning crime novelist--mysteries, thrillers, and historical fiction. My first novel (about Palestinian sleuth Omar Yussef) won the UK Crime Writers Association New Blood Dagger. I've written historical novels about the mysterious deaths of the composer Mozart and Caravaggio, the Italian artist. I'm working on a thriller series about a US agent. Set in New York, which is where my wife...more
More about Matt Rees...
Mozart's Last Aria The Collaborator of Bethlehem Samaritan's Secret The Fourth Assassin A Name In Blood

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