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In Marciano's brisk third novel (after Rules of the Wild and Casa Rossa), an unlikely pair of women are dispatched to war-torn Afghanistan circa 2004 to report a story about young Afghan women attempting suicide rather than entering into arranged marriages. Imo Glass is a flamboyant magazine writer who wants the story no matter what societal taboos she tramples. Maria Galante, an award-winning but emotionally withdrawn photojournalist, has forsaken dangerous assignments to take pictures of fancy food for fancy magazines, until her agent persuades her to take this job. With a fluid mix of gritty irony and palpable fear, Marciano's evocation of landscape and environment brilliantly captures a devastated Kabul, a messy war and the soulless arms dealers and cold-blooded mercenaries drawn to the fractured nation by the lure of money. Equally intense is her compassionate depiction of a culture where taking photos of women is forbidden and religious doctrine dictates the way of life in "a world of a far greater insanity" than Maria, for one, had envisioned. This work of fiction, rooted in harsh reality, tackles moral complexities with powerful self-assurance. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.