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Saudi Arabian prince, Husam al Saliba hires Dru, a PI specializing in tracing missing children, to find his missing wife, Reeve Cresley and daughter, Shahrazad (Shara).
At a dinner to introduce himself and his story to Dru—and Richard Lake, her lover and an Atlanta police detective—he strikes Dru as charming but unbelievable. He tells of falling in love with Reeve, of turning his back on his possible ascendancy to the power structure in the kingdom for the woman he loves. He also talks of his king’s disapproval of him marrying and siring an infidel. But then he says his family wants him to return, marry his betrothed Aya and get in line to be an heir to kingship. Confused Dru thinks she’s fallen into a fairy tale. After all the prince is known to be a great storyteller and is partial to reciting tales from the Arabian Nights.
The investigation had just begun when Reeve’s parents, Lowell and Donna Cresley, who do not seem disturbed that Reeve is missing with Shara, are killed. That brings the Atlanta police into the case.
A U. S. resident, Prince Husam is a partner in a New York law firm. Reeve is a scientist who works for NASA. The couple spend little time living together. Husam goes off to Paris to see his Saudi princess, Aya, and Reeve is in an affair with Thomas Page. As Dru remarks, nobody in this tale is faithful. Then she finds out all have something too dreadful to hide.
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Portia Devon folded her hands on her desk. The tilt of her head and her scheming eyes reminded me of our young days when we planned midnight excursions to forbidden clubs. She said, “Your fame has caught the attention of a prominent person.”
“You called me here to tell me that?”
“Also to explain the nature of his attention.”
“And who would this prominent person be?”
“An international figure who wants you to find his daughter.”
So like Portia, judge that she is, to draw out a mystery. Wriggling into the leather chair designed for the discomfort of adversaries to her chambers, I thought, This could mean a free trip, courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service. Atlanta was weighing on my well-being. My fame, as Portia labeled it, came about
because of a horrendous case the city had offered up owing to its drug and gang wars.
I said, “I get that it’s a him who wants to hire me to find his missing girl. Where internationally?”
“Starting here, in this fabulous international city.” Her sarcasm illustrated she meant Atlanta, a city that was trying hard to wipe the slate of its quasi-genteel southern roots. “More precisely, his wife disappeared with their daughter.”
I opened my mouth to ask a pertinent question, but she raised a hand. “I don’t know much more than I’m telling you, but the trace appears to be straightforward, not much danger.”
I thought about other child traces. Danger could be and often was an issue. I said, “You know I don’t do heights and tight places, like jumping out of planes or diving in caves.”
“There is a cultural element.”
“Cultural in what way?”
“Ethnic customs, religious differences.”
“All right, Porsh, out with it—your prominent person by name, and those of the wife and daughter.”
“You are familiar with the Middle East?”
Involuntarily my shoulders drew back. No wars or terrorists, please. “We’ve worked with the state department in getting children back from fathers that . . .” I paused, because up until now I’d worked only with mothers in their quest to get their children returned from countries outside the United States.
“This is not about absconding fathers,” Portia said.
Portia could be so tedious when she wanted to be. “So mama snatches the girl and brings her here? How old?”
“Four.” Portia tapped her expensive ballpoint pen as she spoke the words. “I don’t know where she’s taken the child, but there will be no state department involved.”
“Sounds like a Hague case, in reverse.”
“It is not a Hague.”
I considered her no-argument tone of voice in terms of Hague cases. If someone illegally kidnapped a child from American soil and fled to a partner country, the Hague Abduction Convention kicked in. A Hague application was filed and forwarded to the Foreign Central Authority in that country. That was what I was used to working with; apparently, the reverse of what Portia was presenting to me, but I was not sure how.