Rob Kitchin's Reviews > The Collaborator of Bethlehem

The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Rees
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Aug 11, 12

Read in September, 2009

As first novels go, they won’t come much better than this for a reader like me who likes a
mix of a strong plot, good characterization and memorable characters, informative contextual history, good pacing, a balanced blend of action and dialogue which lacks overly thick description, and a story that stimulates my interest in a place and issue and stays with me long after I finish reading it. Most of what I know about the daily lives of Palestinians is gleamed from television news. Beynon Rees opens up their world beyond suicide bombers and the conflict with the Israeli state, providing a rich, multi-textual portrait of family life, culture, politics, and institutional structures as an integral aspect of the story without it ever descending to a sermon or it rising above the story of Omar and his quest to save George. What he makes clear is that, like every society, Palestine is layered and fractured, riven with as many internal differences as exist as between it and the society it supposedly opposes. Benyon Rees’ skill is to transport you into the sights, sounds and tastes of Omar’s world, providing a rich sense of place along with a riddle of a story (although I did have a fairly good idea as to the identity of the real collaborator a long way from the end despite the efforts to keep a few potential suspects in the frame – there were enough other twists though to make this an entertaining read to the last page).
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