Zöe Ferraris’ third novel set in Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of Strangers, couldn’t be more aptly named. On one level, it refers to the country’s influx of foreign workers, many of whom work in menial jobs. Non ones seems to miss them when they disappear, allowing a serial killer to prey upon foreign housemaids and bury their bodies in the desert outside the city of Jeddah. But the detectives on the killer’s path are also virtual strangers to their female colleagues: Many of them refuse to speak with the women for religious reasons, even when lives are at stake. One exception is the lead inspector, Ibrahim Zahrani, who is caught up in personal crisis with the disappearance of his long-time mistress. For help, he turns to a female lab technician, Katya Hijazi, putting both of their careers in jeopardy, yet forging a bond rare in Saudi society.
Kingdom of Strangers, Zöe Ferraris, $29.