Fuller (Turkey and the Arab Spring, 2014, etc.) examines the precarious morality of interventionist American foreign policy in this political thriller.
A prologue at the start of this novel asks, “Treason....What does it actually mean? Is it a thought? A state of mind? An act?” What follows is a morality play that examines just those concerns. Alex Anders was raised in Lahore, Pakistan, where his missionary parents operated an eye clinic to cater to the poor and spread the Christian Gospel by setting a compassionate example for their Muslim neighbors. When Alex returns from college in America, he notices the tension that’s resulted from Pakistan’s increasing Islamization. The turmoil results in his parents’ clinic being burned down by a Muslim mob and his father being beaten to within an inch of his life in front of the blaze. The experience marks a shift in Alex’s worldview. When he returns to the U.S., his Russian studies at school lead to his recruitment into the CIA, and he becomes part of the “black loam of a netherworld out there where secret armies meet secret armies to perpetuate the struggle.” His work leads him to Augusto Pinochet’s Chile and eventually back to Pakistan, where the war on terror has supplanted the Cold War in America’s global chess game. Yet, as the years wear on and Alex witnesses tragedy after tragedy—some public, some personal—his views begin to shift, and he’s forced to justify the tactics of his government when they place him at odds with the well-being of his family and friends. Fuller has written a very atypical thriller: its pace is deliberate, its immersion in its settings is complete, and it takes an intense interest in the emotional havoc of events. Alex is not simply an agent on assignment; he’s a man working to fix a world of which he is very much a part. (At least, he hopes his work is helping to fix it.) “Treason” is the first word of this book, and readers should not be surprised by its conclusion, but the emotional depth that Fuller employs to reach the outcome makes it an achievement.
A complex, heartfelt political thriller.