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Body of Lies: A Novel Hardcover – April 17, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Displaying his trademark expertise and writing skill, Washington Post columnist Ignatius (Agents of Innocence) has crafted one of the best post-9/11 spy thrillers yet. Subtly framing a highly elaborate plot, Ignatius tells the story of idealistic CIA agent Roger Ferris, newly stationed in Jordan after being wounded in Iraq. After a failed initiative to flush out a terrorist mastermind known as Suleiman, Ferris, who's dedicated to forestalling further al-Qaeda attacks, develops an intricate scheme modeled after a British plan used successfully against the Nazis. Ferris's plot to turn the terrorists against each other by sowing seeds of suspicion that their leaders are collaborating with the Americans puts his personal life in turmoil and threatens his professional relationship with the head of Jordanian intelligence. Few readers will anticipate the jaw-dropping conclusion, and the pairing of first-rate espionage suspense with fully developed characters should propel this onto the bestseller lists and possibly attract Hollywood interest. Author tour. (Apr.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
David Ignatius, journalist and author of Agents of Innocence, has used his vast knowledge of Middle Eastern politics to write one of the most compelling post-9/11 spy thrillers. While creating psychologically deep characters and painting rich portraits of life in Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, he narrates a fast-paced search for a terrorist. A few critics noted, however, that Ignatius bends over backwards not to stereotype his Arab characters (most are wise; few are anti-Semitic), while blatantly criticizing American foreign affairs. Despite these flaws, "One hopes that he has another book in the planning stage and is already filling in form DS-4085, requesting yet more visa pages for his well-worn passport" (Washington Post).
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I think that is the major problem with `Body of Lies'. It is enjoyable, but when all is said and done, that's about all that can be said; it was merely enjoyable.
`Body of Lies' tells the story of CIA agent Roger Ferris, who comes equipped with Bondesque credentials and a wounded marriage. Ferris was injured in Iraq and since has been trying to capture terrorist Suleiman. His attempts are continuingly failing and placing him and the ones he loves in even more danger. That's when Ferris and his boss Ed Hoffman concoct a plan that has enough edge to really do the trick. They create a façade, a faux agent who has supposedly penetrated Suleiman's network and is supplying the CIA with information. Ferris and Hoffman both know that the threat of betrayal will undoubtedly cause Suleiman to surface, and when he does they can pounce.
There are many obstacles that Ferris must face in order to fulfill his job. He has to contend with the threats from his wife Gretchen that are a result of his asking for a divorce; threats that threaten his job and his freedom. He has to deal with the imposing opinions of Hani Salaam from Jordanian Intelligence.
And then there is Alice, Ferris' one true love and the major chink in this otherwise enjoyable chain. The problem I have with Alice is that her inclusion in the novel creates a thick layer of clichéd familiarity that I really didn't want to have to read. The ending is completely ruined because of her existence. I know that it is supposed to add some depth to Ferris and his actions, but his final actions are less than satisfying. If Ignatius had left this novel an action/thriller and not a romance novel it would have gone down a little easier, because when Ignatius leaves Alice out of the picture the novel maintains an admirable pace.
Sure, the novel is not perfect, and there are areas that could have been cleaned up, but for the most part it is entertaining and enjoyable. I was not really a fan of Ferris' character (a lot of that due to his `puppy-dog' lovelorn relationship with Alice) and actually found Hani the most interesting character in the book. His character was mysteriously intriguing and really stays with the reader long after the novel is finished.
Sadly though, not much else sticks. The novel is a fun ride, but once the ride is over there really isn't anything to remember. It's a breezy read (only took me a weekend) and Ignatius writing style (apart from his ridiculous romantic segments) is engrossing and almost effortless. It truly draws you in to each page, there is no denying that, but the end result is less than what one would expect.
Body of Lies tells the story of Roger Ferris, A CIA field officer who gains the trust & friendship of the head of the Jordanian Intelligence Service & the respect of his own service when he learns to balance American Gungho-ism with Middle eastern respect & traditionalism. Ferris is dedicated to the elimination of a 'Mujahid' commander known as Suleiman. He will do whatever he can to take him out, even if it means going behind his Services back or betraying a friendship with a man that he can't really afford to lose.
Additionally, there were way too many scenes in the book with men calling each other "my dear" or "darling". I'm not Jordanian, and, perhaps, that is how they speak in Jordan - but to my viewpoint, that came off as very weird in a hardcore action/thriller book. I have a hard time imagining the head of the Jordanian intelligence unit calling the local CIA officer "my dear". That just doesn't work for me.
Overall, a very choppy and uneven book that left a lot on the table. I think an interesting story line could have been developed if the new girlfriend would have turned out to be a terrorist working against him, etc. There were so many other options, but all the reader got was a pageful of schmaltz.
Ignatius clearly has some talent, but the book is disappointing because you know the author could have done more. I will check out future books, but Ignatius does not make the cut to be on my "A list" of authors.