Skelly - a burned-out American foreign correspondent - is back on the beat. Post 9/11, trailing ather messy divorce and too many children, he's been dropped into the smoky chaos of Peshawar after scarcely as much preparation as one might make for a weekend at the beach. And, as Skelly soon discovers, this posting is going to be picnic. To survive the inflamed passions of Peshawar's swirling humanity he will need a 'fixer': a local man who kws the area and speaks English, a nimble, well-connected jack of all trades who can save his skin yet take him where the action is. And for every journalist in Peshawar, the real action is across the border in Afghanistan, where AlQaeda lurk and armed Taliban fighters still cling to power in their mountain strongholds. Skelly chooses Najeeb, the banished son of a tribal warlord. Soon they are driving dusty roads west in the shadowy wake of ex-Mujahedeen Mahmood Razaq, who, armed with dubious assurances of American backing, hopes to stake his claim as leader of the next regime. Skelly's quest for the scoop of a lifetime is less grandiose. He is determined to track down the charismatic man the whole world is seeking. But it is Najeeb, torn by his own divided loyalties, who must find the way for both of them, in a land where a single misstep - and a single lapse of trust - can prove fatal.
Dan Fesperman is a reporter for the Baltimore Sun and worked in its Berlin bureau during the years of the civil war in former Yugoslavia, as well as in Afghanistan during the recent conflict. His first novel, Lie in the Dark, won the CWA John Creasey Award for Best First Crime Novel in 1999. His second, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows, won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller in 2003. Both books are also published by Black Swan.