From Publishers Weekly
Displaying enviable versatility, Harris, who first achieved acclaim with his alternative history, Fatherland
, and who more recently showed his mastery of the historical novel in Pompeii
, hits one out of the park with this dark paranoid thriller. Former British prime minister Adam Lang (clearly modelled on Tony Blair) is up against a firm deadline to submit his memoirs to his publisher, and the project is dangerously derailed when his aide and collaborator, Michael McAra, perishes in a ferry accident off the coast of Marthas Vineyard. To salvage the book, a professional ghostwriter is hired to whip the manuscript into shape, but the unnamed writer soon finds that separating truth from fiction in Langs recollections a challenge. The stakes rise when Lang is accused of war crimes for authorizing the abduction of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, who then ended up in the CIAs merciless hands. As the new writer probes deeper, he uncovers evidence that his predecessors death may have been a homicide. Harris nicely leavens his cynical tale with gallows humor, and even readers who anticipate the plots final twist will admire the authors artistry in creating an intelligent page-turner that tackles serious issues.
Known for Fatherland
(**** Selection Mar/Apr 2004), and Imperium
(*** Jan/Feb 2007), novelist Robert Harris opens his latest work with a derisive account of the publishing business. From there, it quickly gains momentum, merging a shrewd indictment of the war in Iraq with a literate, page-turning thriller. Harris, who was once a friend of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, offers a withering, barely disguised attack on Blairs policies and his collusion with the United States in the Middle East. Some critics felt that the fictional backdrop weakened the political invective. Other complaints included some stock characters, formulaic plot points, and far-fetched twists, but most critics dismissed these as trivial and agreed with USA Today
that Harris has produced "one of the most politically informed novels of the year."Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.