Kim Barnes has created a heroine for the ages in Gin McPhee—fierce, sad and tenacious, a self-described “barefoot girl from red-dirt Oklahoma” who is consumed with the desire to see and know everything going on outside the country-club-esque compound in the vast Arabian Desert where, against all odds, she has found herself living. In the Kingdom of Men (Knopf) is a gripping thriller that plays out amid the oil-inflected relationships of the Americans and the Saudis (further complicated by the Bedouins and the Indians who serve them both) in the moody landscape of the Arabian frontier. As Gin uncovers layer after layer of corruption in the oil company that employs her husband, she will have to put into practice the words of Yash, her Punjabi “houseboy”—really a man, with a man’s hard-earned wisdom: “Strength does not come from physical capacity but from an indomitable will.”
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