THE GOOD SON by Michael Gruber


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A son reconnects with his past as he goes to astonishing lengths to save his mother from the radicals who have kidnapped her.

When terrorists in Pakistan snatch the participants in a peace symposium, one of the people they grab is Sonia Laghari. They quickly learn that she is no ordinary hostage. On one hand, Sonia’s quite a prize. She’s been wanted for decades in the Islamic world, ever since she went on the hajj disguised as a man, violating Islamic law along the way. On the other hand, Sonia’s not the sort of person to quietly do as her captors command, and with the skills she’s learned from her childhood in the circus, her Jungian training and her propensity for using quotes from the Koran against her captors, she has plenty of unusual tools on hand to cause problems. Perhaps the most dangerous thing Sonia has going for her, though, is the fact that her son is the legendary Kakay Ghazan, a famous mujahideen who once, as a young boy, single-handedly captured a Russian base during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. But now the proud Pashtun warrior Kakay Ghazan is Theo Bailey, an American citizen and ex-Delta who serves on a top-secret U.S. military team. When Theo figures out there probably won’t be an official mission to rescue his mother and the rest of the symposium participants, he decides to do whatever it takes to get her out. Meanwhile, back in the States, a young translator on her way up begins to suspect something fishy is going on with all the cell-phone intercepts they’ve been catching lately, wherein radical Islamists are uncharacteristically bold about discussing a nuclear device they seem to have gotten their hands on. Gruber (The Forgery of Venus, 2008, etc.) weaves the threads together masterfully while successfully exploring themes of family, duty, loyalty, cultural identity and more, without ever slowing the momentum.

Smart, tense and vastly entertaining.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9128-1
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2010


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