Matt Rees's Blog – February 2010 Archive (19)

How does that grab you? Great openings to new books

The first line of a top-notch novel usually has a lot of punch -- to "grab" you. My long-time favorite is "The Sun Also Rises," which manages to tell you a great deal about one of the main characters, but even more about the narrator: "Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn." <!--more-->This weekend The San Francisco Chronicle has… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on February 28, 2010 at 7:31pm — 4 Comments

New York Times Book Review: THE FOURTH ASSASSIN 'engrossing,' 'New Yorkers will be startled'

New Yorkers tend to have a "seen it all" outlook on life. Unsurprisingly, given the madhouse that is the Big Apple. But I've now officially done something that'll shock them. In The New York Times Book Review's crime fiction roundup by Marilyn Stasio, my new novel THE FOURTH ASSASSIN is called "engrossing." It's also described as a novel that…

Added by Matt Rees on February 27, 2010 at 5:01pm — 3 Comments

Born Hamas, turned Shin Bet

How the son of a Hamas founder ended up an Israeli agent, as told by the "Green Prince" himself. (I posted this on GlobalPost)
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Parents often lament that their kids don’t follow them into their chosen professions. They ought to think themselves lucky. They…

Added by Matt Rees on February 26, 2010 at 10:44pm — No Comments

Inventing the Palestinian detective

The dead man's mother raged and cried as she told me how she’d discovered her son’s body, in the cabbage patch outside her home. She’d gone down on her knees, she said, touched his blood and wiped her fingers on her face and called out that God is most great.

As the wind came winter cold off the Judean Desert, I watched her weep and thought: “I have to write a novel about this.”

Forgive me if that sounds heartless, but I’m a…

Added by Matt Rees on February 25, 2010 at 4:52pm — 1 Comment

The Crime Fiction Insider: Duncan Campbell's Writing Life

One of the great pleasures of life as a writer is being paired with interesting authors when you speak at book fairs. (It's also an occasional rough ride when you find yourself stuck with a bum who can't write, but I'm being nice here so I won't go into any of those.) The most delightful fellow I've ever met in this way is Duncan Campbell, with whom I was paired at the book fair in his native Edinburgh two years ago. He also happens to be the British crime writer with the best knowledge of…

Added by Matt Rees on February 24, 2010 at 4:09am — No Comments

Book of A Lifetime: The King Must Die

The Independent has a regular feature in which it asks authors to write about a book which changed their lives somehow. Last week the London newspaper asked me to write the piece. Here it is:

In early 1999, King Hussein fell sick on his return from cancer treatment in the US. I was Middle East correspondent for The…

Added by Matt Rees on February 22, 2010 at 5:07pm — 2 Comments

Palestinian sex-for-favors scandal

Was Israeli intelligence really behind the video showing an Abbas aide soliciting sex? (I posted this on Global Post.)
Fans of the Jamaican reggae singer Shaggy will already be familiar with the strategy of a Palestinian official caught with his pants down — actually, with his pants entirely off — in a sex scandal this week.

On his…

Added by Matt Rees on February 21, 2010 at 5:28pm — No Comments

Espionage is a dirty business

You’d think there was something very wrong with spying.

People pay good money to watch Daniel Craig dispose of villains in the bloodiest fashion. They nod in approval when M pushes 007’s perfect false passport across the desk. Yet everyone’s peeved about what in all likelihood is a Mossad hit against a Hamas operative in his Dubai hotel room on January…

Added by Matt Rees on February 19, 2010 at 4:48pm — 3 Comments

From Hitler History to Mahler Mystery: J. Sydney Jones’s Writing Life

Some authors exude the pleasure of reading and writing (and, surprisingly, when you meet them, many just don’t.) J. Sydney Jones is such a man, with a breadth of writing experience in a range of genres that’s deeply impressive and carries with it an obvious love of his craft. His Viennese Mystery series is a fascinating way to delve into one of Europe’s loveliest, most cultured cities – and damned entertaining, too. He’s also the…

Added by Matt Rees on February 18, 2010 at 8:10pm — 3 Comments

The Daily Beast and The New York Times

My new Palestinian crime novel THE FOURTH ASSASSIN is one of five "This Week's Hot Reads" on The Daily Beast, which also happens to be the hot read of the web these days. The Beast writes of the book and its Brooklyn setting: "Rees paints a meticulous portrait of the post-9/11 community of Little Palestine and the tension of cultures trying to…

Added by Matt Rees on February 14, 2010 at 5:32pm — 2 Comments

Euro Bestsellers, UK-US Blockbusters

Crime writer Simon Beckett wrote a few days ago in The Guardian that he’d had no idea he was the best-selling British author in Europe until stats were released last month. Not surprising, because at home no one has a clue who he is.

The Sheffield-born writer of a series of novels about a forensic anthropologist (hard to define, but it involves a lot of descriptions…

Added by Matt Rees on February 14, 2010 at 4:04am — 3 Comments

Why's a Palestinian sleuth in Brooklyn?

I’ve been called the Dashiell Hammett of Palestine, the John Le Carre of the Middle East, the James Ellroy of…Palestine, the Graham Greene of Jerusalem, and the Georges Simenon of the Palestinian refugee camps. Depends which review you happen to have read.

I’ve written three previous crime novels about Omar Yussef, my Palestinian schoolteacher/sleuth. Omar has been called the Philip Marlowe of the Arab street, the Hercules Poirot of the Near East, Sam Spade fed…

Added by Matt Rees on February 12, 2010 at 5:50pm — No Comments

Jerusalem Zoo: Penguins before pols

Watch a whimsical video explaining why the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is a better place from which to take stock of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict -- better in fact than a Gaza refugee camp or an Israeli military base. Seriously. And yet not.

Added by Matt Rees on February 11, 2010 at 6:55pm — No Comments

Wall St Journal on 'The Fourth Assassin'

During my trip to New York this last couple of weeks, I stopped into the space-age headquarters of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp on Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Once my eyes had adjusted to the superbright white light everywhere, I settled into a studio for… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on February 9, 2010 at 11:24pm — 2 Comments

'The Fourth Assassin' takes Page 69 Test

The blog empire of the Campaign for the American Reader has as its flagship the Page 69 Test. The premise is this: open any book to page 69; if it grabs you, that's a better indication of whether you'll enjoy the book than simply reading the opening page. Try it on a book you like (and one you don't), it usually is quite reliable. Blogger Marshal Zeringue asked me to submit my new Palestinian crime novel,…

Added by Matt Rees on February 9, 2010 at 5:47am — No Comments

The (Forgotten) Book You Have to Read: Simenon's 'Saint-Fiacre Affair'

<img src="" alt="" title="Maigret Goes Home" width="190" height="320" class="alignright size-full wp-image-887" />Crime fiction blog <a href="">The Rap Sheet</a> runs a weekly feature asking authors to write about a "forgotten" book that merits new attention. This last week the blog's editor asked me to…

Added by Matt Rees on February 8, 2010 at 12:06am — No Comments

What am I reading?

<img src="" alt="" title="Wolf Hall" width="158" height="238" class="alignright size-full wp-image-875" />On the <a href="">"Writers Read" blog</a>, which is run by the indefatigable Marshal Zeringue, the latest post features my most recent reading. It's not what you might think -- in other words, it isn't detective fiction…

Added by Matt Rees on February 5, 2010 at 10:44am — 1 Comment

Palestine Scene of the Crime

Crime writer J. Sydney Jones has a new blog called Scene of the Crime. He aims to interview writers about the impact on their writing of the location and sense of place in their novels -- usually from far-flung countries. This week he features me on my Palestinian crime novels. Read on, for the full interview.

A Different View of Palestine

Matt Beynon Rees has… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on February 3, 2010 at 1:08am — No Comments

Bringing the Mideast to America

Often a novelist can humanize foreign affairs in ways a journalist can't.

To mark publication today of my new Palestinian crime novel The Fourth Assassin, I posted this for my regular column on GlobalPost.

Though it's convenient to do so, we ignore overseas events at our peril. We… Continue

Added by Matt Rees on February 2, 2010 at 12:17am — 1 Comment

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