Gool Mahommed worships Allah and Lifebuoy soap. In 1914 he returns to Broken Hill, five years after he was sent back to his homeland by his mentor and benefactor, Abdullah. A camel driver and mullah, Abdullah has learned through bitter experience that small-town Australia is not the place to be a Muslim immigrant. But Mahommed is ready to embrace the Anglo-Australian lifestyle and has hopeful visions of himself as an assimilated citizen, a practitioner of the habits of English gentlemen, and eventually a prosperous owner of a submarine shipping line.
Alice Mercer yearns for a life in a place where the streets aren′t named after the poisons that spew out of the smoke stacks - Sulphide, Oxide, Chloride - and when she encounters Mahommed on the train, she is immediately drawn to him. But this is outback Australia in 1914, and the prejudices of others prove an obstacle in their fledgling relationship, not to mention the outbreak of World War I.
And there′s Broken Hill′s other residents: Alice′s friend Irma, conservative and disapproving of Alice′s interest in Mahommed yet longing for a marriage proposal from the town′s Chief Sanitary Officer, Robert; Alice′s brother, Lewis, who is looking for the adventure of a lifetime by enlisting in the Imperial Forces; and Adrian Kadran, boarding-house proprietor and town quack, who is administering a stupefying tonic to his patients.
When a series of cruel acts against Abdullah drive him to despair, and, finally, revenge, what follows is unthinkable. Based on a disturbing true story, this beautifully crafted story has a deeply affecting fable-like quality that provides a startling insight into how the seeds of terrorism are sown (publisher blurb).