Many novels seek to amuse or entertain, some to challenge and provoke, others to inform. This novel does all of these and much more. Looking For The Mahdi, N. Lee Wood's first mass-market work tells of us an engaging SF adventure set in a believable yet fictitious Middle Eastern country.
In this case, the "SF" doesn't necessarily stand for "Science Fiction" -- the phrase "Speculative Fiction" comes immediately to mind as the author crafts a seamless mix of present day fact with sensible future technologies and society. The fact that this is Wood's first novel lends more to the wonder: this book would stand well on its own if it had been produced by any seasoned, accepted author.
This was more than just a literary joy ride; I actually had to *stop* momentarily reading the novel in order to think about and appreciate the ideas it presented. Bravo!
On the strength of this effort I'm now going order N. Lee Wood's other novel, "Faraday's Orphans". I can hardly wait!