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Take a journey that will fill your heart and expand your mind

The Jeddah Series

Eye-opening, entertaining, award-winning novels
for book lovers everywhere

Literary mysteries that offer an intimate look at life in Saudi Arabia

When sixteen-year old Nouf goes missing, her prominent family calls on Nayir Sharqi, a pious desert guide, to lead the search party. Ten days later, her body is discovered by anonymous travelers. When the coroner's office determines that Nouf died not of dehydration but from drowning, and her family seems suspiciously uninterested in getting at the truth, Nayir takes it upon himself to find out what really happened. He quickly realizes that if he wants to gain access to the hidden world of women, he will have to join forces with Katya Hijazi, a lab worker at the coroner's office who is bold enough to bare her face. Their partnership challenges Nayir, as he confronts his desire for female companionship and the limitations imposed by his beliefs. Fast-paced and utterly transporting, "Finding Nouf" is a riveting literary mystery that offers an unprecedented window into Saudi Arabia and the lives of men and women there.

Women in Saudi Arabia are expected to lead quiet lives circumscribed by Islamic tradition. But Katya Hijazi, 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 a 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 woman was a young filmmaker named Leila, whose controversial documentaries earned her a few enemies. Was it her connection to an incendiary Koranic scholar or a missing American man that got her killed? "City of Veils" combines a thrilling, fast-paced mystery with a rare and intimate look into women's lives in the Middle East.

When a secret grave is unearthed in the Saudi desert, the bodies of nineteen women are discovered and a shocking truth revealed: a serial killer has been operating undetected in Jeddah for more than a decade. As the officials investigate, lead inspector Ibrahim Zahrani and Katya Hijazi, one of the few women in the police force, are drawn into a dark underworld that exploits the most vulnerable members of Saudi society. In the tense, page-turning thriller, award-winning author Zoë Ferraris weaves a tale of psychological suspense around an elusive killer and the sinister forces trafficking in human lives in the Middle East.

"Ferraris offers up a fascinating peek into the lives and minds of devout Muslim men and women while serving up an engrossing mystery ... Highly recommended."

Library Journal

"A finely nuanced first novel offering an exceptionally balanced look at male and female perspectives."

Kirkus Reviews

the jeddah series

The novels have been international bestsellers and have been published in 45 countries.

The stories are inspired by my life in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where I lived with my ex and his family, who were Saudi-Palestinians. ​

HOUGHTON FN paperback high res.jpg

"Beautifully crafted...With intelligence, patience, and meticulous detail, Ferraris evokes a complex culture profoundly ambivalent about female power."

Publisher's Weekly

"A first-class police procedural...Ferraris continues her impressive run of crime novels set in Saudi Arabia...Terrific atmosphere and a painless lesson in the religious, social, and sexual mores of Saudi Arabia."

The Times (UK)

"In this exhilarating tale of duplicity and betrayal, Ferraris masterfully captures the nuances of the Saudi culture and its women, while brilliantly exposing the conflict between tradition and desire."

Mahbod Seraji, author of The Rooftops of Tehran

 

WHAT INSPIRED ME

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was 20, I met and fell in love with a man from Saudi Arabia.
We married and had a daughter, and when she was still an infant, we went to Jeddah to visit his family.
I arrived at the airport in some kind of purple witchy cloak—the closest thing San Francisco could offer to an abaaya at the time—I believe it had pentacles and black cats on it. I was completely clueless.
What should have been a two-week stay turned into a months-long odyssey of cultural immersion in the Jeddah of the early 90s. I returned a changed person. Saudi opened the shell of my mind to a new understanding of culture, religion, history, politics, and family.

My husband and I eventually separated, and I spent the next ten years as a single mother constantly explaining my daughter’s background to a mystified American population. Very few people knew the basics about Saudi, and what they did know was often distorted by stereotype. Every time I’d have one of these conversations, I’d think: someone should write a book about Saudi.
No one wrote the book.
Eventually, I decided to write it myself.
What I wanted was to re-create a world I knew and loved. To give readers a portal into that world that would tear down the negative stereotypes Americans tended to have about Saudi and replace them with living stories, with the truly complex experience of being inside a living culture, with all of its surprises and contradictions.
I didn’t set out to write a mystery novel. I came to it through my character, Nayir.
He's a devout Muslim, a Palestinian Jeddawi and desert guide, who has no way of arranging a marriage for himself but who wants marriage and family almost more than anything else. Part of what blocks him is feeling unable to talk to women, and I needed a situation for him that would push him out of his comfort zone. For him, that had to be something morally compelling enough, something that would trump his virtues of modesty and restraint, and murder seemed like a reasonable choice. A friend’s sister is found dead in the desert, and Nayir wants to find out what happened. His determination for justice leads him right into an awkward relationship with Katya Hijazi, a young, open-minded forensic tech who is also keen to solve the crime--and who really can't stand men like Nayir.

The result was Finding Nouf, my 2008 debut novel. It went on to be published in 45 countries and to win numerous accolades and awards. I followed this with two more novels in the series: City of Veils and Kingdom of Strangers.

Zen Garden
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