The story is set now amidst the war on terrorism. Jeff Madsen, an ex-Green Beret, is wounded trying to prevent the theft of a nuclear weapon that has been stolen for delivery to al-Qaeda. Cholpon, a Sufi adept, rescues him, and they fall in love. She introduces him to spirituality and restores his will to live. He gives her the kind of romance and sensual fulfillment she's never before known.
Cholpon's Sufi teacher, Djamila, initiates Jeff into meditation, then adds her skills to the search for the bomb. Using dervish dancing and other techniques of higher consciousness, they discover it has been stolen by the local general who was supposedly helping the Americans to find it.
As US Special Forces battle al-Qaeda, the escalating violence threatens their future together and the lives of thousands in the country. To save them, Djamila uses an ancient, nonviolent way to prevent terrorism. But can they make it work in time?
For a skeptic like me, the tale got a bit tendentious, but the lyrical style of the prose made me willing to suspend my disbelief. Although I find the author's premise that groups of meditators can defuse violence to be dubious, he manages to bring it off within the context of the novel.
Hathaway is a Special Forces veteran and spent a year and a half in Central Asia, so the setting and the combat scenes feel true to life. So do the meditation experiences.