As an international dope smuggler, David Ramsbottom is used to an eventful existence. We join him on the day of his wedding to debutante Annabella Babbage--chain-smoking reefers in a bid to forget his two tons of hashish trapped in Beirut, and the police cars encircling the church.
Fifteen years later, broke, world-weary and irredeemably dependent on weed, David rejoins his old smuggling partner, Tony Khouri, in Israel, on the promise of easy cash to be made from an illegal land deal. But, as David should have learnt, nothing in his life comes easy. Shadowy Mossad agents, murderous Russians, fanatical nuns and egg smugglers are strewn across his path, while David yearns for just one smoke to make sense of it all. When that smoke comes, he is catapulted into an apocalyptic end-game, where his own survival hangs in the balance.
Set against the chaotic backdrop of the late 90s Holy Land, The Dope Priest is an uncanny mix of humour and tension. It combines the relentless pace of the best thrillers with the jaded eye of a pot-smoking William Boyd. It is possible to have reservations over such a cocktail: sometimes the political detail, though thoroughly researched, is a little heavy. And the love interest never quite produces the goods--because the plot allows little opportunity for its characters to grow on us. That said, Blincoe has tackled an unfamiliar subject with enviable ease, and produced a gripping tale. Reading while under the influence is not advised. --Matthew Baylis
'Nicholas Blincoe is one of England's most gifted writers. His prose has clarity, range and restraint. He flips between entertaining and challenging his readers with an intelligence that is both embracing and unforced' (Alex Garland )