Third of Effinger's yarns set in the Budayeen, an Arab ghetto in a balkanized future Earth (When Gravity Fails, 1986; A Fire in the Sun, not seen). Hero Marid Audran has risen from small-time street-hustler to become the right-hand man of old power-broker Friedlander Bey. Now, an enemy arranges for them both to be falsely accused of murder, tried, convicted, sentenced, and spirited away to die in the middle of the Saudi desert. Marid, who carries a range of useful drugs as well as various plug-in computer enhancements, must keep both of them alive, find a way out of the desert, track down, and then wreak vengeance upon...the Budayeen's holiest imam, who signed the indictments? or a longstanding rival of Friedlander Bey, invulnerable thanks to an oath the old man swore long ago? Pleasantly supple and mildly inventive while remaining lightweight and sophomoric: just the formula that series fans prefer.
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