The Camel of Destruction
In a 1910 Cairo rife with corrupt, strangely modern land deals and sour banking schemes, series sleuth Captain Owen solves yet another mysterious death, that of a civil servant sitting at his desk. The sparse, dialogue-heavy writing style moves like a house afire while at the same time managing to give the flavor of the time and place in surprising nooks and crannies. A scene where the widow Shawquat rouses the quarter to action against the land dealers is particularly good for showing the power of women and grassroots politics in pre-World War I Middle East.
To my taste, however, the book was sometimes too sparse. We never see the actual fellahin whose livelihoods give the bankers means to gamble with. More scenes not just in council chambers discussing the finances but showing them working (or not) would have enlivened the book and given it more depth.