A Gorky Park-style thriller that's truly frightening--because it's set in today's Iran, which in Koenig's expert hands (Smuggler's Notch, 1988, etc.) unfolds as a modern-day Bedlam run by Muslim fanatics. There's no clue given as to whether Koenig visited Iran to research this story, but readers will feel as if they've gone there and escaped with their lives. Their guide to this sinister land and its amazements--like the box shaped like a pencil sharpener that's replaced swords for amputating thieves' fingers, or the seegah, ""temporary wives"" who marry for as little as an hour in a kind of sanctioned prostitution--is Darius Bahktiar. An American-educated prosecutor under the Shah, Darius years back killed a top dog of the Shah's secret police who'd gotten away with murder; thrown into dreaded Evin prison, Darius became a hero upon Khomeini's ascent and now is Teheran's homicide chief. But, with his Western ways, he's under constant suspicion by the Committee for the Revolution and its leader known as Bijan, who yanks Darius from the case that opens the story--the slaying of a woman involved in drug-running. Besieged at home as well--his ultrareligious wife wants a divorce--but not to be blocked, Darius pursues the case--which turns up two more dead drug-runners--into a tangle of clues pointing to a group of female Muslim revolutionaries known as the Brides of Blood, and to the smuggling not just of heroin but of mycotoxins, agents of chemical warfare. When he begins to realize that Bijan wants the mycotoxins for Iran's arsenal, Darius is tossed back into prison and brutally tortured. A dramatic escape in which they pose as corpses allows Darius and his new love--a former Bride of Blood--to race for Turkey, mycotoxins in hand but with Bijan close behind. An absorbing mystery, incandescent action, and an Iran locked in nightmare: Salman Rushdie would love this novel.