Pearce has created (in his Arabic series) one of the most distinctive and original sequences in crime fiction. The Mamur Zapt is a title given to a Welsh captain serving in Edwardian Cairo, ostensibly answering to the Khedive (the chief of the Cairo secret police), but ultimately to his English masters. Gareth Owen’s Welshness allows him an anti-establishment sympathy with the natives. The first book The Mamur Zapt and the Return of the Carpet was published in 1988 and achieved an instant following. Pearce cleverly plays on the tensions created by the cosmopolitan setting, with its mix of religions and social divisions. What interests him is political crime, and Owen has encountered labyrinthine plots and corrupt officials through ten increasingly assured books, the latest of which is The Fig Tree. Pearce has also inaugurated a Russian series, the Dmitri books, set in the 1890s.
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