Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday's Forgotten Books, January 24, 2014

 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.

Sergio Angelini,  SADIE WHEN SHE DIED, Ed McBain
Joe Barone, AN AIR THAT KILLS, Margaret Millar
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)
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
Richard Robinson, DEATH OF A GHOST, Margery Allingham
Ron Scheer, THEY DON'T SHOOT COWARDS, John Reese
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


Todd Mason said...

Looks as engaging as usual! I wax nostalgic (no!):

Anthologists Helen Hoke, Seon Manley and GoGo Lewis, Michel Parry, Hugh Lamb

Gerard said...

I've been intending to read THE MOONSTONE and the LADY IN WHITE after listening to Dan Simmons's DROOD.

Anonymous said...

Thanks as ever, Patti.

Unknown said...

It looks like a good read. I have been looking for a great book to read since finishing a great thriller, book one in a trilogy, "Chasing A Miracle" by Eliot Hartford Bailey Thanks for the recommendation!

Yvette said...

I posted one today as well, Patti.

Todd Mason said...

Why, look! Ashley SpamPerson has commented!

Is BlogSpot acting up for everyone today?

Jerry House said...

Gerard, THE MOONSTONE and THE LADY IN WHITE are both good reads, although I prefer TLIW. (Has there ever been a viler villain than Count Fosco?)

George said...

I'm a big fan of David Ignatius' spy novels for years. I've also enjoyed his political column. He's a bright guy.

Gerard said...

House, I'll trust your word on that. I just bought a new edition of MOONSTONE for my library to replace a beat-up copy.

Not long ago I re-read the Holmes stories and was impressed by how well the writing holds up to modern style. I'm often hesitant to read books over 90 years old because I do not like the pace and style.

Charles Gramlich said...

Read a fair number of these kinds of books when I was young but really just kind of lost interest in the genre at some point. Haven't read a spy book in years.

Kelly Robinson said...

Looks like a great collection of stuff, as usual. I'm hoping to be back in action for Shirley Jackson week.