This novel has it all: alternative history, urban fantasy, mystery/police procedure, and steam punk. A Master of Djinn is set in the alternative 1900's Egypt that Clark introduced in previously published short works.
This story begins with a murder assigned to Agent Fatma, one of the best special investigators in the ministry. Clues amass to show this won't be a straightforward case for her to solve.
Further, Fatma discovers she has a second new assignment, a new partner who is also a fresh from the academy rookie. At first, she's frustrated that she can't continue to work solo. However, in time she begins to respect the clever skills new Agent Hadia Abdel Hafez provides. Adding even further frustrations, Fatma's girlfriend Siti has a few secrets of her own. Together the trio works together to solve the murder.
Woven throughout, we find Clark's nuanced critique of colonialism, patriarchy, racism, and sexism. His complex superb world and character development create an enjoyable page-turner mystery.
It is helpful to be familiar with Clark’s earlier works, The Haunting of Tram Car 015, and “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”. There, detailed introductions were made to several characters and situations. However, it is not necessary to read them first. A Dead Djinn in Cairo is an enjoyable read as a stand-alone full-length debut novel.
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