Matt Beynon Rees, a Welsh journalist living in Jerusalem, writes a series known as the Omar Yussef Mysteries. If you pick up anything at all that is bound between two covers, you should be buying and reading them even if you hate mysteries. If you happen to like mysteries, please read THE FOURTH ASSASSIN, the latest Yussef novel, and recommend it to an unenlightened friend.
Yussef is that iconic reasonable man who is in a very bad place at a very bad time. Officially, he is a husband, father of three adult sons, and history teacher at a school run by the United Nations in the Palestinian territories. A non-practicing Moslem who is making the transition from middle-aged to elderly, Yussef is one of the few individuals in his community who has earned the trust of members of the Moslem, Christian and Jewish congregations. Accordingly, he is occasionally called upon to play the role of what could be called --- for lack of a better term --- a “detective.” And indeed, as with the other books in the series, there is a mystery within THE FOURTH ASSASSIN in which Yussef becomes personally involved.
The novel moves Yussef from his more familiar --- if not entirely comfortable --- environs of the Palestinian territories into New York, where he is to speak before a U.N. conference on the condition of the Palestinian people. While somewhat reluctant to be there, the trip gives him the opportunity to visit Ala, his youngest son, who is living with two of his friends and happens to be Yussef’s former students. The three young men --- along with another friend --- jokingly call themselves the Assassins, named for a group from a time long ago.
Yussef had been looking forward to seeing all of them; his joy, however, is abruptly dashed when he discovers the decapitated body of one of Ala’s roommates. Ala refuses to provide an alibi, and, to his father’s horror, is arrested. Yussef understandably becomes obsessed with clearing his son’s name and finding the real killer, whom he may have inadvertently spotted shortly after finding the corpse. Hamza Abayat, the NYPD homicide detective (and a Palestinian by birth) assigned to the case, alm