Transactions opens with a scene of duplicity and murder. In the following pages, Ali Alizadeh plunges readers into a ‘whirlpool of greed and apathy’. The collection revolves around an assortment of men and women from different parts of the world. We encounter Anna Heinesen, a Danish charity founder who is revealed to be a sex trafficker and religious zealot; Samia, a rich and racist Emirati student who surfs cyberspace under the alias ‘The Alchemist’; Karina, a Ukrainian sex worker who winds up doing a B-grade horror film in Australia; and a nameless Iranian refugee who criticises ‘pampered Westerners’, but who has sinister secrets of his own. The lives of these characters intersect in unpredictable ways.