It is September 2009, Ramadan and the eve of Afghanistan's first 'democratic' elections when young American Malone, pilot for an aid airline, does Fatima Hamza the favour of flying her out of Kabul to Bamiyan, while his surgeon wife Kim heads south to Kandahar. The beguiling, Oxford-educated Pashtun Fatima has left Pakistan to rediscover the country she comes from, she tells him, to retrace the places that were important to her spy-chief father, ex-military man and writer with a disturbing gift of prophecy. For both Kim and Malone, the foray into that dangerous territory is to become a prolonged adventure, their former lives receding as they lose touch with one another and enter the world of the enemy. Each is to witness the horror of an air raid, and each is to come face-to-face with the Taliban. They will glimpse hell, but paradise, too, and be changed. In this powerful novel, Paul Pickering gives a human face to the conflict in Afghanistan, capturing the magical quality of a land and its people.