An ""eco-thriller"" about Simon Wright--or ""Shy Moon Rite""--an American engineer working for the Desert Service in Jordan, who juggles an investigation of substandard concrete with involvement in a dangerous kidnapping scheme. The kidnapping seems perfectly moral, and at least arguably legal: Pamela St. Martin and her husband Ted want to recover her 11-year-old daughter, Cima, who's been hustled off to Jordan by her father, Dr. Wasfi Tajer. After a hundred pages of evocative scene-setting--plus engineer Simon's fruitless attempts to warn his bosses that the oil pipeline under construction with defective concrete will rupture--come-hither Pamela calls Simon to Cyprus to discuss the logistics of a rescue operation planned by soldier-of-fortune Nick Pierce. Simon reluctantly approves the arrangements; but when Pierce is arrested stateside, he's left to pull off the job himself. Even so, Simon's able to smuggle the willing Cima into Israel as his daughter--only to learn that Ted St. Martin has been molesting the gift and that Pamela isn't her real mother. Hours later, the St. Martins snatch Cima themselves, and Simon, now persona non grata in Jordan, has to get her back--in a wild trip involving planes, boats, and a trek across the desert on foot--and return her to her father (while transferring his affections from Pamela to adoring functionary Jennifer McDonald). The St. Martins' hirelings pick them up at the last minute, but a timely explosion in the pipeline--remember that bad cement?--wipes out the villains and prepares for a happy ending. Roberts (The Heart of the Dog, 1972) writes with engagingly wry affection about the desert and its people, but his plotting--throwing together two stories that belong in separate books--isn't up to the same high standard.