It is unusual for me to write reviews of narrative books, but in a way I think it is still work-related, as the author is a longtime friend and colleague.
This book has a plot, so I won’t throw in any spoilers, also because the plot did not really surprise me: there’s a Brit who goes to work in the Middle East, with all the predictable cultural clashes and stereotypes; I had sort of expected Alex to write about this because he is most opinionated about it, and always found his tales and blog posts very entertaining.
There are spies, bombs, beautiful girls, some romance, lots of action – you may mistake this for a Fleming thing, also encouraged by the pleasantly light (in a positive sense) writing that’s so characteristic of Alex.
There’s also a surprise ending, and I must say the cunning way he approaches the last pages fooled me. Yes, I was surprised, the way a sudden kick in the crotch surprises you. I even had to go back a few pages to make sure I hadn’t missed something. In retrospect, the way the plot seemed as thick as ever when only a few pages were missing should have alerted me, but I was hooked, or perhaps this is one cue you miss when you read an ebook.
I also think that the one thing I didn’t like at first – a slow start – was instead the initial rolling of the giant stone that gradually picks up speed until it falls of the cliff.
It’s a well written and carefully edited tale – something I deeply appreciate as it reveals love for quality, and I kept wandering how many of the characters mirrored people Alex met in his middleastern sojourns; do Aisha, Daoud and Gerry/Gerald exist?
The book did not dissipate my impression that the author is a little one-sided when it comes to “the Izzies”, but the terrible entanglement of the many issues afflicting the area is very well-rendered and we’re left with the feeling that, if a solution exists, it will have to be dug out of that arid earth with our fingernails, one bloody bit after the other.
A good page-turner, but not for the holidays, and yes, I will buy the next one.
You sad bastard!