An unidentified woman's body is found on the beach in Jeddah, a city on the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. At the same time, an American man working in Jeddah goes out to pick up a take-away meal and disappears, leaving his wife Miriam alone to cope in an unfamiliar culture.
Katya Hijazi, a forensic scientist, finds a clue in the dead woman's burqua that identifies her as Leila Nawar, a filmmaker who did freelance work for television news. Katya joins Inspector Ibrahim, who needs a female to conduct interviews with women, and they discover that Leila was also working on other projects. One film explored the seamy side of Jeddah, while another raised questions about the text of the Quran. Both films were controversial and either might have gotten her killed. Meanwhile, Miriam tries to find out what happened to her husband, and the two investigations become intertwined. The action culminates with a sandstorm in the Empty Quarter.
A first-rate murder mystery that provides a glimpse behind the veil into the lives of women in Saudi Arabia.