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The American Mission Hardcover – June 26, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Palmer’s first novel offers an insider’s look at the world of American diplomats stationed in foreign countries. He lived the role for 20 years, so Palmer knows the subject cold. His brother, Daniel, and his late father, Michael, are both accomplished thriller writers, so an ability to write crime fiction clearly runs in the family. Alex Baines works in the U.S. State Department, but he is helpless to intervene when a massacre occurs in Darfur in 2006. Years later, his career in shambles, an opportunity lands in his lap to start over and recover his reputation. Unfortunately, a moral quandary quickly develops: what appears to be in the best interest of his job and career may not be good for the people of the Congo. Palmer creates full-bodied characters and an intriguing story that showcases the difficult choices ambassadors face on a daily basis. Pair this one with John le Carré’s The Constant Gardener (2001). --Jeff Ayers



“Without question the best book I’ve read this year.” —Mystery Scene 

“With their intelligence and humanity, Alex and Marie are easy characters to root for—but even the bad guys are well-drawn and believable….This is first-rate fiction. Let’s hope Palmer has a sequel in the works.” — Kirkus, starred review

“Palmer’s first novel offers an insider’s look at the world of American diplomats stationed in foreign countries…. Pair this one with John le Carré’s The Constant Gardener (2001).”
“A timely thriller... A satisfying finale and a nuanced view of the diplomatic life.”
Publishers Weekly

"The American Mission by Matthew Palmer cuts so close to the bone it could be nonfiction. It opens with one of the most horrific scenes I have ever read, which segues into a fast and furious story of international intrigue and corporate corruption, with nonstop action, vivid characters and crisp dialog. This is a thriller of great integrity and intelligence, written by an author who really knows his stuff. I highly recommend it."
—Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Monster of Florence and co-creator of the legendary Pendergast series.

“Superb!  Embassy insider Matthew Palmer takes us inside the secret "club" of international diplomacy, and races his characters through political tightropes and hair-raising encounters.  I read this tale at warp speed, thrilled all the way.  With The American Mission, Palmer joins the exalted ranks of Follett, Forsyth, and Clancy.”—Tess Gerritsen, Internationally Bestselling author of Last to Die

“Talk about writing what you know — Palmer is a veteran diplomat and it shows on every page of his debut novel.  Crackling with authenticity that sizzles with emotional clout, this is a superb debut by a coming star in the thriller genre.  Five stars by any review.” —Steve Berry, New York Times

and #1 Internationally Bestselling author of The King’s Deception

The American Mission is one of those wonderful novels, where great story telling is woven through with the intricate detail only a knowledgeable insider can supply.  I loved it!”
— Iris Johansen, #1 New York Times

-bestselling author of Hunting Eve

“Bristling with high adventure and low-down international politics has it all - unforgettable characters, razor-sharp dialog, insider details that only an American diplomat would know, and an exciting love story. Reminiscent of Graham Greene, Mr. Palmer is far better than John le Carre. This is the sort of book you don’t want to end, and when it does, you crave the next one. Mr. Palmer is a rare talent. You won’t want to miss The American Mission."
— Gayle Lynds, New York Times

-bestselling author of The Book of Spies

"What a fantastic debut thriller...Only an insider with years of service in the diplomatic corps could detail the intrigues of the international and domestic politics of Africa."
—Taylor Stevens, New York Times

bestselling and Barry Award-winning author of The Informationist


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons (June 26, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399165703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399165702
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #940,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Scott E. High VINE VOICE on April 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Matthew Palmer has gotten dangerously close in his first novel to defining what many politicians' refer to as "defending American interests" overseas. Unfortunately, one way or another, it always seems to be about business and making money--especially in oil and minerals. The major difference in how this is accomplished comes in two forms: 1. The bad guys come in and play the corruption game, paying off the various players and raping the land for their own benefit, or 2. The good guys come in, bringing schools and medical care, introduce a new form of government and allow the population to share in the wealth and prosperity.

This is the first novel I have read that explains what the State Department does at the local level in developing countries, both the mundane tasks Foreign Service officers deal with at the lowest levels and also what the senior players are involved in as far as political games. Fictional or not, this story walks you through a bloodless coup in the Congo and defies you to identify who the good guys and bad guys really are. Just when you think that you have a grip on it, someone you trust puts on a different hat and a new game with different rules begins. "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

I found this novel to be extremely entertaining and refreshingly open about what roles Foreign Service officers are sometimes forced to play. Well written and candid in its presentation, you will find this an enjoyable read. Great debut novel!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brian Baker VINE VOICE on March 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The American Mission" is a novel of political intrigue somewhat reminiscent of books from the 60s and 70s by authors such as Fletcher Knebel, or Burdick and Lederer ("The Ugly American"). It takes place in today's Congo, and follows the story of a career American diplomat -- previously disgraced for his actions during a massacre in Darfur -- who is reassigned to the American diplomatic mission in the Congo.

Alex Baines (the diplomat) is driven to rehabilitate his career in the State Department, and finds himself becoming involved with the people who inhabit a small village at the confluence of two Congolese rivers far in the backside of nowhere, who have discovered rich mineral wealth on their tribal lands.

When the villagers decide to develop those resources for themselves, they've placed themselves at odds with powerful national and international forces intent on securing that wealth for themselves.

As the conflict intensifies, Baines finds himself caught between several factions, trying to do what's right for the villagers as well as his own country, and finding that the differences seem to be irreconcilable.

As he tries to deal with international mining interests, Congolese rebels, the local dictator, adversaries in his own embassy, and invading rebels from neighboring Sudan, the game gets ever more deadly as the stakes continue to increase.

Though this book does start out a bit slow, the pace steadily builds. The plot is believable (and "classic", as I said), the characterizations are well-realized, and the settings are colorfully portrayed. It's a very interesting portrayal of a situation that's all too common and believable, as it takes place in Africa, the continent on which nothing ever seems to work out right, and where corruption is rife.

I think author Palmer did a good job, and I definitely look forward to more from him in the future, particularly as his skills mature.

A solid 4 stars.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By QueenKatieMae VINE VOICE on March 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The beginning chapter of The American Mission begins with a deadly raid on a refugee camp in the Sudan. American Foreign Service Officer (FSO) Alex Baines escapes, but the fallout ruins his career and changes his life. An ambassador in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and lifelong friend, calls Alex asking for his talents as a FSO that promises career redemption. Alex knows and loves the DRC having spent time there in the Peace Corp.

The DRC Alex remembers has changed greatly since his days in the Peace Corp. On his first day back he is sent deep into the jungle to negotiate a hostage release from the terrorist guerrilla leader known as The Hammer of God. A US-based mining company, Consolidated Mining, has lost its engineers and six Americans.

The first part of the book gives the reader a detailed look into what makes the Foreign Service such an important branch of American diplomacy throughout the world. And the author, having worked twenty years in the FS, is able to share his invaluable insight and knowledge in this debut novel. However, I wonder if the author ever lived a life like Alex Baines because the second half of the book reads like something out of a Clive Cussler novel. Surrounded by conspiracy and danger, Alex strikes out to make a change in a country invaded by terrorists and foreign mining companies.

While The American Mission is an exciting and entertaining read, it's only fair to let you know that nothing in the book will surprise an experienced reader of thrillers. If you read LeCarre or Ludlum, you will know the ending of this book. But that does not detract from the captivating story, it's likeable characters, or it's intrigue. And the fact that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gives it a thumbs up increases the book's street cred.

The book comes out in June, just in time for beach weather and poolside reading.
Highly recommended.
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