I like the book because of the Middle-Eastern cultural setting; I haven't come across a lot of SF&F done in such a setting. The way the culture is handled has the ring of accuracy, but I'm not from that part of the world so don't take my word for it. I also like that the protagonist is Muslim and his relationship with his religion changes throughout the series. I don't see a lot of SF&F books or detective books with this sort of treatment of religion.
In this book, Effinger is more or less a subscriber of the Lois McMaster Bujold style of plot development, which could be summarized as "think of the worst thing that could happen to your character and then do that to him and see how he deals with it."
Good solid entertainment for fans of the genres in question.