*to be published by Kensington Books in fall 2020
Scheherazade, the fabled storyteller of Baghdad, unveiled 1,001 tales of mystery and magic in order to stay the executioner's sword. Centuries later, three women – a secretary, an artist, and a diplomat’s wife – must rewrite their own stories and confront their most dangerous secrets if they are to outwit Saddam Hussein’s secret police and save their families and their friendships.
Huda al Basri was once the impoverished granddaughter of a village fortune teller. Now she’s the hard-working mother of a teenage boy, and a secretary at a foreign embassy in Baghdad. But then the mukhabarat secret police come calling, demanding she work for them as an informant. They order her to befriend her boss’s wife, a lonely young American searching for a connection to her long-dead mother. Ally Wilson’s mom worked as a nurse in Baghdad during its ‘golden years’ in the 1970s. Like her daughter, she kept plenty of dangerous secrets. Ally and Huda are both linked to Rania Mansour, the owner of an art gallery, who enjoyed a privileged upbringing as the daughter of a sheik, but now is battling to keep her teenage daughter safe and a roof over their heads. Baghdad provides a vivid backdrop as dictatorship and the threat of impending war with America test the women, their friendships, and their futures.