A Dead Dijin in Cairo (review)

A Dead Dijin in Cairo kept popping up on my Goodreads news feed. Everything about it aroused my curiosity. Especially the premise, because it sounded unlike anything I’ve ever read. The author didn’t sound familiar, but soon I realized that P. Djeli Clark is the author of a book that’s been on my TBR for quite some time. That book was Ring Shout, which seems well-received around here, and which
Victor LaValle blurbed:

“P. Djèlí Clark couldn’t write a bad book if he tried. Ring Shout is fantastically fun even as its core is as serious as can be.” 

That alone convinced me.

And what began as a simple murder investigation soon took Fatma el-Sha’arawi and Inspector Aasim Sharif on a journey unlike any other. A journey fraught with horrific ghouls, a deck of cards, enigmatic symbols, disingenuous angels….and a clock. 

My enjoyment didn’t only derive from plot, either. P. Djeli Clark’s prose flowed with ease, making for a relatively quick read, given its length. The descriptions were vivid, but never over the top. The dialogue was crisp and propelled the narrative forward.

The Arabian and Muslim mythology (evidenced by the djinn,) in addition to the diverse Egyptian culture, further enriched this stunning novella. 

Through the investigation (which was reminiscent of an X-Files episode,) Fatma’s character became more pronounced, and as such, I grew to adore her. Her characterization felt very genuine, nothing was out of place. Her presence was never too much. Unlike a lot of Hollywood productions, where the characters practically seem omniscient, Fatma was collecting clues, making observations, conversing with Aasim. Together, they were figuring things out as certain obstacles presented themselves, not only as a partnership of two, but with the audience. P. Djeli Clark welcomed the reader alongside their momentous, life-altering adventure, allowing you to take everything in, making the same assumptions, and experiencing the twists and revelations that the characters did. 

Highly recommended. I’m eager for more adventures alongside Fatma and Inspector Aasim. 

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