It started with John Constantine, grouchy creepy detective magician, solving petty punk mysteries and sassing demons. I love a good pot boiler, but I like them with wizards, or gods, or most preferably ghosts. My collection is an embarrassment of sassy magicians solving ghost crimes.
An anonymous Twitter surfaced in my feed one day to recommend the short story A Dead Djinn in Cairo. Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities must investigate the potential suicide of powerful djinn and oh my god five pages in I already knew I was going to buy whatever book came after this. Please tell me more about the underground worship of Hathor by warrior women.
These two stories take place in turn of the 20th century Cairo inhabited by djinn, spirits, boilerplate eunuchs, and creatures that call themselves angels and bear little resemblance to whatever image just popped into your head.
The follow up is a short novel starring two new agents, Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef, on their first case as a pair. They shuck the good cop/bad cop dynamic for a more breezy older brother stuck with an annoying younger brother friendship. The pair must deal with bureaucrats, an all-women religious sect of not-exactly-exorcists, and the coming of suffrage to Egypt.
If it sounds like there are a lot of women in these stories for a genre usually dominated by dudes who should really get into therapy, you’re correct.
5/5 Bowler Hats, Fatma is my new style icon.