The Haunting of Tram Car 015

by P. Djèlí Clark

4.5 stars

This was a lovely little novella set in an alternate Cairo where Egypt was able to fend off colonializing Europe because someone accidentally opened a door to the magical realm of the djinn. Now the djinn hang out with humans as friends and power both somewhat sentient automatons and aerial tram cars in the “modern” city of Cairo.

Enter Inspector Hamed and his new recruit and bibliophile assistant Onsi on the eve of Egypt’s parliament deciding whether women can have the vote. Hamed is pleasingly bureaucratic and stuffy, despite being one of the “spooky boys”, or police force devoted to magical issues.

He’s called into Ramses Street aerial tram station by a conductor because one of the tram cars is haunted. What ensues is a lovely little bit of sleuthing by Hamed and little jaunt through various kinds of magical beings I have little familiarity with (non-Western European, non-East Asian magical beings).

There’s also some fun politicking between Hamed and the train conductor as well as female characters basically saving the day (and one point where I almost stood up and cheered when women gathered to hear/protest about the vote managed to save the day instead).

I will definitely be on the look out for ore P. Djeli Clark as this definitely was a tasty little mystery morsel flavored with Middle Eastern culture and sly humor.