The Last Cut
HarperCollins, 2000 (1998)
Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai
his book reflects the amazing
culture of Egypt in the early-20th century; with so many non-Egyptians in positions of power, ineptly trying to understand the psyche of an Arab / Mediterranean people. The setting is well described, its minutiae of detail evoking a feeling that the author really knows the locale.
owever, the plot itself is at times difficult to follow. We never get to fully understand the main character, the Mamur Zapt Gareth Owen, who is the chief of Cairo's Secret Police. In some ways the reader will feel more sympathy with the rather nasty water carrier, Ali Khedri, whose daughter's murder has triggered much unrest in both the Jewish and Arab communities of the city.
he action takes place as Cairo gears up for the final
or filling up of the canal through the middle of the city, prior to installation of water pipes to all its neighbourhoods. Water is vital to the well-being of the whole community and this theme runs through the book, from the murder of Leila Khedri to a terrorist blowing up of one the regulators for the great dam that supplies water to the downstream farming communities.
he Last Cut
is interesting for its detail of Cairo life, showing the discrepancies between
, but tends to be a little difficult to really get one's teeth into; all the colonial-type characters seem to be cut from the same mold and we start to wonder where one begins and another ends!
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