A documentary film producer's first novel presents the events preceding the Gulf War as a soap opera, with Arab man's inhumanity to Arab woman playing a decisive role. With Saddam amassing troops for a Kuwait invasion, old CIA hand Ray Holt summons Elaine Landon, a comely widow, to Riyadh, where she's asked to dig out a fundamentalist mole who's keeping Baghdad supplied with secrets from the US and Saudi high commands. Arriving with Elaine is Naila al Saud, a member of the kingdom's ruling class who, trained as a physician in America, is returning at the behest of her surly brother Musaid to marry a man she's never met. Meanwhile, Tarek al Saud (Saudi intelligence chief, Ray's close ally, and Naila's brother-in-law) has been working assiduously to unmask the renegade royal and also to convince King Fahd to allow UN/US forces on Saudi soil. After Iraq sacks Kuwait, the monarch finally assents to operation Desert Shield, but Ray & Co. still can't identify the turncoat who's raising merry hell with the military buildup. In desperation, Tarek (never too busy to bed Elaine) recruits Naila (only too glad to escape Musaid) to penetrate the fifth-column whose zealots could deliver oil-rich Saudi Arabia to Saddam once the shooting starts. He also enlists the aid of Bedouins who keep to the old ways. While Naila (pregnant by the non-royal merchant prince she loves) winds up in mortal peril in Mecca during the pilgrimage season, she's able to provide a key to the high-tech puzzle. Tarek rescues her in the nick and foils the conspirators, permitting an anxious Schwarzkopf to launch Desert Storm. An implausible mix of fact and fancy, its pace slowed by frequent messages on East/West cultural clashes, Islam, sisterhood, and family values of an aberrant sort.