In the Kingdom of Men-Kim Barnes

In the Kingdom of Men

Kim Barnes

Knopf, May 29 2012, $24.95

ISBN-13: 9780307273390


Her parents were dead by the time Gin was seven.  Her strict devout Methodist minister grandfather raised her in a dilapidated shack in rural Oklahoma.  As a teen Gin meets Mason McPhee who stuns her by showing interest in her.  When she becomes pregnant, they marry.


The pair moves to Houston where he obtained work in the oil industry.  The Arabian American Oil company hires Mason so they relocate to Abqaiq an American enclave in the Arabian Desert.  For Gin their life there is a fairy tale comes true as she reflects back on her humble beginnings while wearing her first swimming suit and having servants though she also feels restricted by Arabian society.  Still as Mason, disgusted with the firm’s mistreatment of the Bedouin workers tries to help them, a Bedouin woman washes ashore on the Persian Gulf.  He is caught in the crosshairs of a conspiratorial cover-up with only his wife risking all to save her spouse.


This enjoyable storyline starts off as a coming of age tale before turning into an engaging twisting amateur sleuth story starring an intrepid persistent heroine out of her element.  Gin tells her tale as she matures from a naive Sooner bewildered by the Sharia Law culture as much as by oil dynamics.  Her obsession with the truth makes for a strong drama as sometimes the truth fails to set you free.


Harriet Klausner


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