City of Veils (Review)

Book cover for "City of Veils" by Zoe Ferraris.Title: City of Veils

Author: Zoë Ferraris (website, twitter)

Narrator: Kate Reading

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 400 (audio length: 14 hours 50 minutes)

Genre: Fiction

Source: Audiobook version purchased from

From the cover:

Women in Saudi Arabia are expected to lead quiet lives circumscribed by Islamic tradition. But Katya, one of the few women in the medical examiner’s office, is determined to make her work mean something.

When the body of a brutally beaten woman is found on the beach in Jeddah, detectives are ready to dismiss the case as another unsolvable murder. Only Katya is convinced that the victim can be identified and her killer found.

Katya soon discovers that the dead girl was a young filmmaker named Leila whose controversial documentaries earned her many enemies. Was it Leila’s connection to an incendiary Koranic scholar or a missing American man that got her killed?

(This book is the second in the Katya Hijazi series, after Finding Nouf.)

For example, Katya now has a different job, with more responsibility … and more interaction with men. The reader finds out early in the book that this had been a problem for Nayir, and played a large part in the seeming end of the friendship between the two of them between the time period when Finding Nouf ended and City of Veils starts. I liked the way that this conflict was approached, and the way that the differences between Katya and Nayir were fleshed out even further in this installment.

Even though most of the other characters were different in this book than in Ferraris’ first, it worked well in the overall scheme of things. The citizens and society of Saudi Arabia (and, in particular, Jeddah) were explored in very interesting ways, much like they had been in the last book. For me, this was one of the best parts: catching a glimpse into the inner workings of Saudi society, a place where most readers have probably never been. And it was also a great exploration into the different facets of Islam within this society – including the fairly conservative Islam that Nayir practices, and which is expressed in fascinating detail and through extremely personal inner dialogue.

Definitely pick up City of Veils after you’ve read Finding Nouf!


This book is a part of the Ramadan Reading event happening here this month.

You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.

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