cover image The Opium Prince

The Opium Prince

Jasmine Aimaq. Soho Crime, $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-64129158-3

In 1970, Afghan-born American diplomat Daniel Abdullah Sajadi, the protagonist of Aimaq’s stellar debut, is posted to Kabul to head the U.S. poppy eradication efforts in Afghanistan. While driving outside Kabul, Daniel accidentally hits a young girl and kills her. He pays a small fine, but opium kingpin Taj Maleki plays on his guilt and blackmails him into compromising himself and his counterdrug mission. Daniel’s haphazard ruse to redirect eradication efforts away from Maleki’s poppy fields leads to disastrous results. The lives of both men are thrown into peril as tensions rise between Islamic fundamentalists and pro-Communists. Along the way, Daniel learns the harsh truth about his celebrated Afghan war hero father, and risks everything to right the wrongs he set in motion as Soviet influence grows. Aimaq, an adviser on international arms control and foreign affairs, draws heavily on her childhood experiences in Afghanistan to provide glimpses into the complicated political and cultural dynamics of a country that has seen nearly half a century of constant war. Though she has altered some historical details to fit the narrative, her observations provide astonishing context to contemporary global issues such as Islamic extremism and the international heroin trade. Fans of Lauren Wilkinson’s Cold War thriller American Spy won’t want to miss this one. Agent: Jacques de Spoelberch, Jacques de Spoelberch Assoc. (Dec.)