We gave it a B+
Taking his cue from Martin Cruz Smith, whose crime novels set in Soviet Russia (Gorky Park, Red Square) invigorated and politicized the police procedural, Joseph Koenig has fashioned a fast, sinuous, and frightening thriller set in theocratic Iran. Darius Bakhtiar, chief investigator for the National Police, is middle-aged, partly Westernized, and notably impious. His wife despises him, and so does the Committee for the Revolution, particularly once he begins investigating the mutilation-murder of a young woman assumed at first — because of her lipstick and nail polish — to be a prostitute.
Bakhtiar’s pursuit of her killers ensnares him in a dizzying number of intrigues involving missing kilos of heroin, a brigade of female Islamic terrorists, and a gang of the shah’s former henchmen. Corpses keep turning up, including that of a drug dealer discovered ”nude except for black socks and DEATH TO ISRAEL in stylized script over the ankles.” It’s that kind of detail, along with solid characterization and the vivid evocation of a turbulent culture, that makes Brides of Blood first-rate entertainment. B+