"Blood Money is an averageish geopolitical thriller that scores highly on topicality but not much else.
The book centers on the difficult relations between the USA and Pakistan and their respective intelligence services. The US establishes a new, off-the-radar agency - the "Hit Parade" -to implement a fresh strategy in Afpak, the liberal buying off of potential enemies, or as one character puts it "a leveraged buyout of all the people who have been trying to **** us over." They devise an also topical funding mechanism for their venture involving a London-based hedge fund. However, the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence agency, the CIA and a technologically savvy jihadist group each crack their cover. Several agents are murdered. Thirtysomething stereotype, Sophie Marx, is sent to investigate.
It is hard not to think that David Ignatius, a veteran reporter on the Washington Post, is writing down to his audience. The vocabulary and structure of the book would not challenge a ten year old. It is pacey enough, but the plot is flimsy - at one point both the head of the ISI and an eccentric American "reckoned to be the third most powerful" man in the CIA converge on Kew Gardens to participate in an extrajudicial double execution. True to its genre, the book jetsets between locations such as Islamabad, Waziristan, Los Angeles, Brussels, London and Dubai with lots of superficial and at times corny (London is especially hammed up) authenticity plastered on. Characters are two-dimensional and verge at times on caricature. The dialogue is trite. Most of the Pakistani characters communicate in tribal proverbs, which Ignatius supplies both in English and Pashtun (I do not recommend trying these out on your local mini-cab driver should he turn out to be Pakistani - you run a high risk of insulting him and his sister).
"Blood Money" touches on an important topic but provides no insight into it.