Hester Metcalfe is a child of British India, born and raised in the hubbub and dust of Peshawar at the foot of the Khyber Pass. When her husband dies in the Great War, she returns to her old life on the North-West Frontier, to old friends and old haunts in both the Walled City and the British cantonment.
But Peshawar is no longer the haven it was. When a British officer is murdered, apparently by local insurgents, the fragile equilibrium within the British community is threatened - and the vast gulf between the rulers and the ruled becomes very personal for Hester. For the dead man, Major Bartlett, was her lover, and in the aftermath of his death she must grapple not only with the violent divide within the province, but with the discovery of the murdered man's secrets.
When the Chief Commissioner recruits her for a dangerous mission outside the city into the mountains of Malakand, to gather information and make contact with a mysterious character known as the Faqir, Hester jumps at the chance to find out more about what happened to Henry. But as she navigates through the web of alliances, feuds and long-standing hatreds outside the enclosed world of the British, she comes to realise that the answer is closer to home than she ever thought.
A taut and compelling mystery set against a backdrop of beauty and violence, in a region as dramatic and turbulent then as now.