Christmas in January? Well, I’m just catching up from an overly busy holiday season so that means that I’m just finishing my books that were intended to put me in the holiday mood. Marcia Willett’s Christmas in Cornwall easily can be enjoyed at any time of year. Her charcter-oriented novel overflows with interesting people, including a young widowed father, his endearing five year-old son, Jakey, a cast of nuns (some with halos and some without), and a widowed caterer who is always looking for love in the wrong places. The picturesque English countryside, descriiptions of quaint homes and decades old architecture add to the charm of this sweet story. There is a side story of unscrupulous real estate dealings that add a bit of mystery to this engaging cozy.
Alif, a 23-year old hacktivist in the Middle East, protects anyone who asks (and pays him) from the State’s online security. He’s very good at what he does, and has clients ranging from revolutionaries to Islamists. Being critical of the government can get a person disappeared in the State, so Alif provides protection and allows dissent to exist and be accessible to his fellow citizens.
Intisar is Alif’s lover, and when she leaves him for an arranged marriage to a prince, Alif does what any talented computer geek would do (okay, probably not true). He writes a program to identify Intisar from wherever she accesses the internet and then hides himself from her online. The Hand, head of State online security, breaches Alif’s security and steals this program.
It turns out Intisar’s fiance is the Hand, and he now knows about their relationship. Alif is forced to go on the run, along with his childhood friend, Dina. They also have in their possession the only known copy of the Thousand and One Days. A book of the jinn that the Hand desperately wants. The jinn’s metaphorical way of thinking has profound implications for information technology, and the Hand wants to harness this new method for his own ends. Alif must seek aid from beings he didn’t believe existed, namely the jinn as they exist in the Qur’an, in order to save himself and his friends.