Sam Keller is a mild-mannered accountant for a big pharmaceutical company. Before his next business trip to Hong Kong, his boss - a dark and sensual woman - asks that he stop in Dubai on the way to ‘spy’ on a co-worker. Well, ‘spy’ is a strong word; she really wants him to follow this guy and keep tabs on what he does and who he talks to. Then again, maybe ‘spy’ is the right word.
Soon after arriving in the United Arab Emirates, Keller realizes his colleague is up to no good. That notion is solidified when the colleague is killed in a strip bar in what appears to be a mob-style hit.
After teaming up with a semi-corrupt local cop, Keller discovers that his late colleague was involved in a prostitution ring with the Russian Mafia, local Emirates, and - surprise (!) - the boss who initially asked for the surveillance.
As a thriller, Layover in Dubai is not very thrilling. The author walks a rickety bridge over the oblivion of cliché as the reader turns pages, hoping against hope that something interesting might happen. It does not.
The best part of Dubai is the setting for which the book is named. Fesperman spent time in this misunderstood city, and it shows. Where record-breaking skyscrapers sprout up like mushrooms after a heavy rain, this Middle-Eastern ‘sin city’ has become a tourist destination for those seeking nightlife and fun (both legal and illegal). But this is also a town of conflict between old and new, foreigners and locals. Sometimes the tensions are high even within the confines of a single family tree. If you are planning a trip to this town soon, that might be a reason to read this book. Otherwise if someone mentions Layover in Dubai, it’s time to get a new travel agent.
Pros: Great snapshot of the booming city of Dubai.
Cons: Plot and characters are real yawners.
Bottom Line: Layover in Dubai is economy class.