Friday, October 5, 2012
Review of The Golden Scales by Parker Bilal (Bloomsbury, 2012)
The Golden Scales has all the ingredients of a good crime thriller - colourful, engaging characters, a strong sense of place, social context and politics, a tangled knot of competing interests and intrigue, and well written prose. For the most part it’s a very good read. Makana is a wonderful character with an interesting back story, and the sense of place is excellent, dropping the reader into modern day Cairo and the Red Sea resorts. Where the story is slightly let down is with some elements of the plotting. Generally, it is nicely constructed and it builds towards a tense climax. However, there are a couple of points which don’t really add up. For example, Cairo is a massive city, yet Makana meets the English woman searching for her child quite by chance in a restaurant and somehow decides that she is somehow linked to the Hanafi case. There is no basis for that assumption, and meeting her and splicing the threads together is a massive coincidence and plot device that is clumsily executed. The resolution is also a little clunky with Hanafi’s reaction seeming out of character. These awkward moments undermine what is otherwise an interesting and enjoyable tale.