From Washington Post columnist Ignatius (The Sun King, 1999, etc.), one of the new breed of post-9/11 thrillers, involving Middle East foreign policy, political intrigue, convoluted intelligence operations and the ubiquitous CIA.
Former Time magazine reporter Roger Ferris has joined the CIA, and after a terrorist bombing in Berlin develops an obsessive desire to take down “Suleiman,” a key al-Qaeda operative whose true identity is unknown. With the help of his boss, crusty Near East Division Chief Ed Hoffman, Ferris begins a journey of deception in which he tries to play an innocent middle-eastern architect to flush out and reveal Suleiman and ultimately take down his whole terrorist operation. But what of the motives of Hani Salaam, the smooth and unruffled chief of the General Intelligence Department in Jordan? He desperately wants to be a part of the operation—but is he a victim of manipulation, or himself a master of the game? The action takes place in Washington and Jordan, where “hypocrisy was mother’s milk.” Lies, deception, manipulation and hypocrisy pervade the atmosphere like thick, acrid smoke from a Turkish cigarette. Ferris is caught not only between competing policies (mainly illicit) but also between competing women—his wife, Gretchen, herself a master manipulator on the domestic front, and Alice Melville, who aids Palestinians in refugee camps and who views lies, rather than truth, as dangerous. In contrast, Ferris works under the cynical yet pragmatic assumption that “this was a business where any action was sanctioned, so long as it worked.” Ironically, however, Ferris develops his own brand of idealism—after all, he’s dedicated to his mission to take down the “bad guys,” and there are, in fact, dangerous people out there. Ferris chillingly counts on undermining truth with doubt, “the great destroyer,” and ultimately uncovers secrets about his own past as well.
A fast-paced novel with all the ingredients for a bestseller.