This an enjoyable steampunk romp through a 1912 Cairo in which magic and djinns exist in a world related, yet unrelated to North Africa at the start of the last century.
Fatma is the newest agent for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. As one of the few females on the force, it’s her job to help police the stranger sides of crime. We open with an horrific mass murder of members of a secret brotherhood. It seems that a powerful man called al-Jahiz has returned after many years, and is beginning to bring a reign of terror on the authorities of Cairo.
Clark has published at least one short story and one novella in this world previously, neither of which I had read, but readers are brought up to speed pretty quickly as the scene is set for this most unusual of settings. And Fatma is also a properly drawn out character, someone who likes to dress snappily in suits and bowler hats, and who is having a secret relationship with the mysterious Siti.
Fatma is also given a newly qualified agent to help solve the crime which has a geopolitical aspect to it, since we are only a couple of years away from the start of the Great War.
I enjoyed the book a lot, and look forward to returning to this world.