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An unabashed commercial thriller – a fast moving tale of family strife, love, duty and vengeance – that nonetheless takes on some controversial themes.

Set in Saudi Arabia in the pre 9/11 era of the late 1980s the story deals with ‘honour killing’ [Sharaf = honour] and the activities of the Saudi religious police.

Sharaf is the first of three novels forming a family saga set in Arabia, America and Israel and chronicling the struggles and enmities of the ‘Peoples of the Book’.

Major-General Farhan Al-Balawi is a loyal soldier in the Saudi Arabian army who dotes on his beloved daughter, Maryam, his pride in her learning and independent spirit sharpened by the death of his elder son and his estrangement from the younger who has opted to pursue a hedonistic western lifestyle in the USA.

Despite the love she shares with her family, her respect for her father, the pride she takes in her Arabian heritage and her loyalty to Islam, Maryam yearns for travel and the opportunity to continue her education in a European university.

But then Farhan announces that Maryam is to marry – the fulfilment of a solemn promise made before Maryam was born and to a man who once saved Farhan’s life – that Farhan’s daughter would one day marry his old army comrade’s son. Maryam endeavours to stifle her bitter disappointment, and to honour her father’s wishes she complies with the betrothal.

Then she meets Joe, an American dentist – and a Jew.

As Joe and Maryam pursue an increasingly intimate clandestine relationship they dare to dream of freedom and of a life together. But Joe is gradually drawing the attention of the Muttawa, the feared religious police, and when Maryam realises that she is pregnant it is then that her trials really begin.