PLEASE DON'T FORGET SHIRLEY JACKSON DAY on February 7th. A review of a short story or two will be very welcome.
BODY OF LIES, David Ignatius by Phil Abbott
Perhaps the most valued accolade for a spy novelist is to be compared to John le Carre. David Ignatius enjoys this status. In fact, the paperback edition of The Body of Lies (2007) includes endorsements from an unlikely pairing. Both Seymour Hersh and George Tenet endorse the novel for its accuracy. I have not read other works by Ignatius, but on the basis of this one reading, the le Carre connection is a bit strained. The protagonist, CIA field agent Robert Ferris, is hardly a George Smiley. He is an athletic young man, a former college wrestler, with a voluptuous (and faithful) wife in Washington DC and a wispy, though a bit politically self-righteous, blonde mistress in Amman. While there is some bureaucratic infighting, which is the other part of LeCarre's tradmark, the bulk of the novel is action-based. There are several shoot-outs, a kidnapping and "enhanced" interrogations.
The Body of Lies then is more of a spy thriller than a meditation on politics and national security. On these terms, Ignatius is quite successful. There are several clever plot twists and captures/escapes, all fore-grounded by the seemingly inexhaustible resources of American technology. Perhaps the real strengths of this novel is its stunning depiction of cities in Europe and Middle East- West Berlin, Amman, Damascus, Tripoli, Aleppo, Ankara. There are also some fascinating character portrayals, especially Hani, the head of Jordanian intelligence (based on an actual figure, according to Ignatius in an interview) and the war of terror equivalent of Karla (referred to as Ferris in the novel), Suleiman. I should also mention Ignatius is committed to giving the Arab viewpoint an extended examination which has annoyed some readers. All in all, this is a good read. Perhaps the le Carre comparison should be laid to rest.
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Brian Busby, INTENT TO KILL, Michael Bryan (Brian Moore)
Bill Crider, 5th Annual Edition, THE YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION, ed. Judith Merrill
Scott Cupp, STRESS PATTERN, Neal Barrett Jr.
Martin Edwards, THE OBITUARY ARRIVES AT TWO O'CLOCK, Shizuko Natsuki
Curt Evans. MURDER AT MANEUVERS, Royce Howes
Ed Gorman, KILLER, Dave Zeltserman
Jerry House, WITH AN EXTREME BURNING, Bill Pronzini
Nick Jones, The History of Spies, Spying and Spy Fiction: John Buchan, Somerset Maugham, Compton Mackenzie, Graham Greene, Ian Fleming and Michael Gilbert in Eric Ambler's To Catch a Spy (Bodley Head, 1964)
George Kelley. WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK SO GREAT, Jo Walton
Margot Kinberg, THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE, Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis
B.V. Lawson, MURDEROUS SCHEMES,J. Madison Davis, Donald Westlake
Evan Lewis, SAINT JOHNSON W.R. Burnett
Steve Lewis/Captain Frank Cunningham, THE QUIRT, B.M. Bower
Todd Mason, Helen Hoke.
J.F. Norris, THE CARELESS HANGMAN, Nigel Morland
Anita Page, THE MOONSTONE,Wilkie Collins
James Reasoner, THE MYSTERY OF THE RED TRIANGLE, W. C. Tuttle
Richard Robinson, DEATH OF A GHOST, Margery Allingham
Ron Scheer, THEY DON'T SHOOT COWARDS, John Reese
R.T. TRAVELS IN THE SCRIPTORIUM, Paul Auster
Michael Slind, BLACK COFFEE, Agatha Christie
Kevin Tipple, COVER OF SNOW, Jenny Milchman
Prashant Trikannad, THE ROME EXPRESS, Arthur Griffiths
TomCat, DEATH SIGNS. H. Edward Hunsinger
Yvette, TRENT'S LAST CASE, E.C. Bentley