I mentioned a few weeks ago in passing about the first Arabic detective novel to be published in English: The Final Bet by Abdelilah Hamdouchi. The Final Bet is now available in hardback and will be out in paperback in September. The paperback publisher is Arabia Books a joint venture between Haus Publishing and Arcadia "working in close cooperation with the American University in Cairo Press". This collaboration with Arcadia, I assume, will allow The Final Bet to be eligible for the International Dagger next year (should it prove good enough).
Synopsis: Casablanca. Othman, a handsome young Moroccan man, returns home to discover his elderly French wife, Sofia, brutally murdered in their bedroom. Highly educated but chronically unemployed, Othman had been in desperate straits before meeting Sofia, who pampered him with fancy cars, expensive clothes, and access to her mansion in the most exclusive
neighbourhood in Casablanca. But living with a woman more than forty years his senior was too much for Othman—before his wife’s murder he sought relief in a steamy affair with an attractive young aerobics instructor, Naeema.
The Moroccan police quickly zero in on Othman as the prime suspect in his wife’s murder. But is he guilty? Did he kill his wife for the money and his lover? Or is he an innocent man, framed by circumstance — and an overzealous and brutal police force?
Abdelilah Hamdouchi’s The Final Bet is the first Arabic detective novel to be translated into English. With it, Hamdouchi joins the ranks of Yasmina Khadra and Henning Mankell, finally bringing the modern Arabic novel to the global stage of detective fiction.
Also from the publisher's website: Abdelilah Hamdouchi is one of the first writers of Arabic-language detective fiction. The author of eight novels, Hamdouchi is also an award-winning screenwriter for Moroccan television and cinema. All of his police novels, including The Final Bet, have been produced for Moroccan television. He lives in Rabat, Morocco.
I look forward to giving this one a go (if and when a copy crosses my desk - may take the library a while to pick it up) not least as it bucks the trend of most of the review copies that come my way - by being less than 150 pages long.