Diving For Pearls by Jamie O’Connell

A young woman’s body floats in the Dubai marina. Her death alters the fates of six people, each one striving for a better life in an unforgiving city…

A young Irish man comes to stay with his sister, keen to erase his troubled past in the heat of the Dubai sun. A Russian sex worker has outsmarted the system so far – but will her luck run out? A Pakistani taxi driver dreams of a future for his daughters. An Emirate man hides the truth about who he really is. An Ethiopian maid tries to carve out a path of her own. From every corner of the globe, Dubai has made promises to them all. Promises of gilded opportunities and bright new horizons, the chance to forget the past and protect long-held secrets.

But Dubai breaks its promises, with deadly consequences. In a city of mirages, how do you find your way out? O’Connell expertly weaves a delicate web of intertwining stories, combining dark wit, and devastating emotional truth as fates collide and lives are shattered.

My Thoughts


When a woman’s body is found floating in the marina in Dubai, her death brings about very different fates for six individuals within a city that only benefits the rich.

Siobhan, along with her husband Martin, moved out to Dubai with the hope of starting a better life. Before long, they find themselves falling in to the luxurious expat way of life, full of sky scrapers, Sunday brunches and designer clothes. When Siobhan’s brother Trevor comes to visit with the possibility of moving to Dubai too, everything seems to be falling together for her.

Gete left her life in Ethiopia behind her, hoping to find work that will enable her to send money to her family. Tahir also finds himself in Dubai, following a very similar set of circumstances after leaving Pakistan and embarking on his job s a Taxi driver as he has high hopes for his daughter.

Lydia is a Russian model, who moves to Dubai with the hopes of really getting her career off the ground and setting herself up with a lavish lifestyle, but her reality is far from this picturesque lifestyle she was sold on, when she finds herself being drawn in to the world of prostitution. Lastly, there is Aasim, an Emirate national but studying with the hopes of gaining freedom from his family and the Muslim conforms forced upon him.

The lives of all these individuals intertwines, as the dreams they had been promised come crashing down around them , and their lives take rather drastic, deadly turns. This is one of those utterly addictive reads that has you reading at every given opportunity. The characters are all well fleshed out and have complex traits and motives, all of which play a different role within the book. Full of drama and plenty of drive throughout, the tensions build as the story progresses, leaving you perched on the edge of your seat as the story nears its conclusion.

This is without a doubt a must read!.

About the Author

JAMIE O’CONNELL has had short stories highly commended by the Costa Short Story Award and the Irish Book Award Short Story of the Year. He has been longlisted for BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines Short Story Competition and shortlisted for the Maeve Binchy Travel Award and the Sky Arts Futures Fund. He has an MFA and MA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin. He has worked for Penguin Random House, Gill Books and O’Brien Press. Diving for Pearls is his first novel.

*Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, Doubleday Books and Jamie O’Connell for providing me with a gifted copy of this book in return for my honest review. All thoughts are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.*

2 thoughts on “Diving For Pearls by Jamie O’Connell”

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