Kosher sushi, kebab stands, a secondhand bookstore, and a bar: the 19th arrondissement in Paris has all the trappings of a cosmopolitan melting pot--a place where multiethnic citizens live, love, and worship alongside one another. But dark passions are brewing beneath the seemingly idyllic vision of peacefully coexisting ethnicities.
Ahmed Taroudant is an archetypal French Arab-non-observant, unable to reconcile his conflicting identities, and troubled by the past. A crime fiction connoisseur, Ahmed is engrossed in his latest book when he finds blood dripping from his upstairs neighbor's apartment. There, Laura Vignole is found brutally murdered, with a joint of pork placed near her body, prompting the obvious conclusion that the killer had religious motives. As the neighborhood erupts into speculation and gossip, Ahmed finds himself first among many suspects.
Detectives Rachel Kupferstein and Jean Hamelot attempt to untangle the complex web of events leading up to Laura's death, but truth is hard to come by, with each inhabitant--an Armenian anarchist, a Turkish kebab-shop owner, and a Hasidic Rastafarian--reluctant to reveal anything. Determined to clear his name, Ahmed joins the detectives as they investigate the connection between a disbanded hip-hop group and the fiery extremist preachers clamoring for attention in the streets. Meanwhile, an ecstasy variant called Godzwill is taking the district by storm.
In his debut novel, Karim Miské demonstrates a masterful control of setting, as he moves effortlessly between the sensual streets of Paris and the synagogues of New York to reveal the truth behind a horrifying crime.