Welcome to Balabad, birthplace of the international secret society known as the Brotherhood of Arachosia. And rumored hiding place of the grandest riches the world has ever known. Balabad is also the country Oliver Finch calls home ever since his father was reassigned to this dull, war-torn dust bowl.
Each day runs into the next for Oliver until a 500-year-old sacred carpet is stolen. Then one of the few friends he has disappears. Oliver is determined to figure out what exactly is going on. But in order to do that he ll have consult with a one-eyed warrior, track down the far-flung members of the Brotherhood, and unlock a centuries-old secret! Suddenly, life in Balabad for Oliver has become a whole lot more interesting . . . and dangerous.
Three children encounter kidnappers, a mysterious carpet and a thieves' market in Haven's (Two Hot Dogs with Everything) entertaining but slight novel. Oliver's father, a newspaper reporter, has moved his family to the tiny Middle Eastern nation of Balabad. Oliver, 12, and his best (and only) friend, Zee, relieve their boredom by visiting a carpet seller, Mr. Haji, who entertains them with stories of Balabad's history. When a series of unusual crimes that begins with the theft of the 500-year-old Sacred Carpet of Agamon culminates in the disappearance of Haji, Oliver and Zee, with the help of a girl named Alamai, set off to find their friend and discover the secrets of Balabad. The brief adventure is exciting but ends too quickly, and with too few opportunities for the protagonists to put their intelligence to use. There's much to like, including smart, realistic characters, a fascinating back story and solid action sequences, but the strong writing doesn't compensate for the structural problems. Illustrations not seen by PW.Ages 8-12. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.