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As atmospheric and suspenseful as its predecessors, Shabanuand Haveli, this evocative novel transports readers to an intriguing corner of the universe to provide an insightful look at modern Middle Eastern culture. Fortunately, readers need no previous familiarity with the saga of Shabanu, fourth wife of a Pakistani tribal leader's son; they will readily enter Staples's world. As the story opens, Shabanu's husband, Rahim, has been killed by his brother during a land dispute, and Shabanu has gone into hiding, allowing her parents to believe she is dead. Meanwhile, her teenage daughter, Mumtaz, is being raised by an abusive aunt in the family compound. Mumtaz, often treated like a servant, finds a trustworthy friend and confidant in cousin Jameel, who now lives in America but returns with his parents to Pakistan each summer. As Staples investigates the perspectivesof the three main characters, Shabanu, Mumtaz and Jameel, she shows how each feels disjointed from the family but remains bound by ancient traditions. Western and Islamic ways clash, yet the author so thoroughly immerses readers in the setting that few will want to judge. Like most of Staples's fiction, this work significantly enlarges the reader's understanding of a complex society. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.