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The Saladin Murders

(Omar Yussef Mystery #2)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  532 ratings  ·  88 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. ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Atlantic (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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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
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It might be unknown when and how death comes, but in Gaza there should be no surprise that it’s on its way.”
'So many ways to die. So much suffering, so much to be feared. So many people ready to take another’s life.'
All the time this breath slowly chills, until death. Every exhalation is an expulsion of some
part of our finite store of life, and also a sigh of relief that the grave is closer by one tedious, depressing pulse.
“No indignity should surprise us in Gaza, Abu Ramiz.”
The way death final
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not much of a mystery but more a spotlight onto the spiderweb of Palestine. People are not good or bad, heroes or villains, but are simply desperate, occasionally outwardly ideological, but always fighting for survival.
Ram Kaushik
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
From his earlier novel set in Bethlehem, it was apparent that Mr. Rees clearly knows the region intimately. He does not disappoint in the second of the Omar Yussef series set in Gaza. Teeming with conspiracies, corruption and desperation, the Gaza pictured here is not for faint hearts. One sympathizes with ordinary Palestinians who are resigned to their fate and look to the future with no hope. The mystery itself is somewhat superfluous and the protagonist, a weary teacher walks through the dust ...more
Nov 05, 2010 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
Oct 09, 2010 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
Sep 18, 2011 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, it ...more
Jun 06, 2008 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. ...more
Aug 26, 2009 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.
Apr 07, 2009 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.
Apr 12, 2014 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.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Κριτική στα Ελληνικά πιο κάτω...

Actually 3​1⁄4/5, but I always round up in favor of the authors. I had high expectations from this book because we don't often get to read a crime/mystery novel set in Gaza and the events described on the book are inspired by real events and the author has spend years living in the area.

But while I'm sure the violence and corrupted politics and rival gangs depicted in the book are strongly rooted to the reality of Gaza, I felt the author never managed to give som
Jacob Heartstone
Mar 18, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

An unusual story with an interesting plot, you might think. However, this book keeps next to nothing of what it promises.

First of all, the characters, their actions and the whole storyline, really, feels very generic. The pacing is volatile and almost as inconsistent as the main character´s actions and personality.

What´s more, I did not enjoy the writing of this book at all: The main character is obnoxious and at the same time very prosaic, and the writing style in general is very disjoin
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
“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 will reach out to touch other victims and other crimes. You can’t solve all the crimes in Gaza.”

With these words an old friend tries to warn the unlikely history teacher sleuth Omar Yussef from digging around the Gaza Strip for evidence to exonerate a Palestinian professor accused of spying. A former Jerusalem Bureau Chief for Time, author Matt Beynon Rees
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matt Rees' books do not make me want to live in Palestine. There is corruption and people dying and an ominous, often in the background, army of occupation. History teacher Omar Yussef is sent to Gaza on a UN school inspection from his home town of Bethlehem. He is bit out of his element in Gaza, although his police-chief friend, Khamis Zeydan, is also visiting Gaza at a conference and he quickly makes other friends. There are many characters, some die, some are corrupt and all are trying to sur ...more
I'm glad I gave this series a second chance because this story started to get interesting once I hit the halfway point and had the various Palestinian factions straight. Most of the action takes place during a four-day dust storm when Omar Yussef and a UN colleague from Sweden visit Gaza to audit the refugee camp schools. Rees describes that dust storm so vividly his readers are left gasping for air.

The twisty plot would have been unbelievable -kidnapping, arms smuggling, torture, car bombing, m
Abdullah Samir
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
to read about your culture and community from the point of view of an outsider is always fascinating . Rees has not fallen into the cliches when describing the life (or actually more about death) in a hot spot like Gaza . judging this book as a thriller it has no flawless narration , but i can not hide my affection by a writer who knows exactly what he is talking about . Mystery is not the best part of this vivid intake to the life of Palestinians under occupation , but i wonder why such novel i ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy the character, Omar Yussef, and having recently been to Israel and the West Bank, I find the descriptions and the feeling of life there spot on. And although this book, which takes place in Gaza was written prior to its 2008 publication, as far as I know nothing has changed there and perhaps has only gotten work.

Looking forward to reading the next book, which takes place in Nablus, which I also visited. I also visited the refugee camp in Bethlehem where Omar Yussef or Abu Ramiz l
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good good book detailing a jailing of a UN employee the kidnapping of another UN employee and various attempted murders on the main character, who is also employed by the UN but is a Palestinian from Bethlehem.
The book takes place in the Gaza Strip in around 2010 and it was a explosive disaster even then
The author knows his subject and the area well as he was a middle east correspondent for 10+ years in Israel for Time magazine. The book was a great intro to what a mess this part of th
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is essentially a murder mystery. For whatever reason, I've never been particularly into mystery novels; this one was interesting though. Takes place in Gaza - as the title would suggest. It is well written, and the story moves at a nice pace. I did enjoy the complexity of the political regime giving rise to the mystery, and I was a fan of the ending. I would recommend for anyone who likes mystery novels. ...more
Oct 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crime-modern
Oh dear. I do normally stay away from books dealing with Palestine and Israel. And this book reminds me why. Such an interesting place to write about but the realism of corruption is unpleasant to read about. Especially in these days when all the politicians are showing just how woefully ignorant they are. Unable to recommend to the normal crew.
Dec 01, 2016 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 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These series are really nice to read.
May 23, 2011 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
Mar 17, 2010 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 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, politics
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
Steven Z.
May 27, 2013 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
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.
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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 novels have grown out of my career as a Middle East correspondent, which took me into culture very different from my own, and my love of history, which takes me into t

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Omar Yussef Mystery (4 books)
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