2 March 2008

Alex Berenson, The Faithful Spy, 2006

An embedded US spy within Al Qaeda converts to Islam, but is then sent back to the US to carry out a terrorist mission as a test of his loyalty. Extrapolated from Al-Qaeda’s ambitions of nuclear and biological terrorism, Kirkus Reviews described this as “a thriller worthy of le Carré”, but there is too much missing for it to truly deserve such a comparison: le Carré would be far more oblique about American paranoia over terrorism than Berenson, who doesn’t get too distracted with the awkward questions – Guantánamo, torture, the Iraq mess – before he quickly drops them. These issues are the huge elephant in the room that are studiously avoided for the sake of the book’s upbeat pace, and Berenson (a New York Times Iraq correspondent) may have done better by also addressing these nagging issues with a more journalistic eye. Nevertheless, a very confident debut.  PY


No comments: