Set in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, this novel opens with the discovery of a brutally tortured and murdered young woman whose body has been found on the beach. Detective Osama Ibrahim is assigned this case. Can the case be solved? So many murders of women are unsolvable in a city where the veils guarantee anonymity. And if this proves to be another murdered housemaid, then finding the culprit is likely to be impossible.
Women in Saudi Arabia are expected to live quiet lives within the boundaries of Islamic law and tradition. Yet there are some women, such as Katya who works in the medical examiner's office, who are determined to be more independent. Katya is convinced that the victim can be identified, and her killer identified and found. With the help of her friend Nayir, Katya discovers that the dead girl was a young woman named Leila.
Meanwhile, Miriam Walker (an American woman) has just returned to Jeddah after a holiday in the USA. Her husband Eric has a job in Jeddah and she is becoming concerned that he may wish to stay in Saudi Arabia. Shortly after her return, Eric vanishes. While trying to find out what has happened to Eric, Miriam discovers how difficult it is for a woman without male relatives to exist in this conservative Islamic city.
Katya's search for Leila's murderer and Miriam's search for her husband intersect, and solving the two mysteries makes for an interesting read. The story is told from the perspectives of a number of different characters and this provides different insights into the cultural aspects of life in Jeddah. In some ways, this was more intriguing than the crime-solving. The setting and the characters make this story interesting.