Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
All style over substance, and not triumphantly so
on 3 November 2014
A thriller about 'enhanced interrogation' in the War Against Terror... I think. The novel centres around one of those plucky heroines that only exist in thrillers - an attractive professional woman who turns out to have nerves of steel when pushed into extreme peril. It also has one of those annoying plot developments where it establishes the villains as a hyper-organised, ultra-professional, omniscient outfit, only for their operatives to be out-witted and thwarted by the plucky amateurs at every turn.
So far, so generic, but what really sets this novel apart from the herd, either for better or worse, is a ludicrously complex narrative style which makes it impossible to know what is going on. Interspersed with the present day action are the memories of a jaded CIA agent, who may have lost his family in a bombing raid in Damascus in 1980. I struggled on in a cloud of confusion and apathy, waiting for the paths of the two stories to cross, and then being spectacularly under-whelmed when they did.
The following quote sums up the book for me: "I think we never do what we say. We never keep our promises. We always end up sacrificing the ones we set out to rescue." Superficially wise, rather poetically written, full of on-message "War is rubbish and torture is bad" cynicism, but ever-so-slightly pretentious and not nearly as clever as it thinks it is...