A fictionalized account of events before and after the killing of Osama bin Laden, seen through the eyes of two men on opposite sides of the conflict.
April, 2011. The title character, MI6 officer Ed Malik, has a tense meeting in Kabul with the British ambassador to Afghanistan, who, unlike Malik, favors force over diplomacy in international relations. Malik’s job managing agents to gather intelligence is immensely challenging. Lately he’s been trying out an agent code-named Nightingale, a pretentious and unpredictable man embedded in Pakistan, who wants permission to befriend Noman Butt, a terrorist officer the reader learns is working directly with the hidden bin Laden. Virtually born into the conflict, Noman’s path was set when his mother’s death from oppressive heat consigned him to an orphanage at the tender age of 4. He’s dismayed by American attacks nearing bin Laden’s location. Though there seems no other explanation, Noman is slow to believe that his friend Tariq is the traitor Malik knows as Nightingale. Ed realizes that Nightingale is trapped with little possibility of escape and will probably be sacrificed for the mission. While he’s on the phone with the terrified young man, there’s an ominous gunshot and an unidentified man takes hold of the receiver at the other end. Returning to Britain, Ed is suspended and resolves to make a bold move in order to regain his confidence and reputation, setting himself up against Noman.
Conway (Rock Creek Park, 2012, etc.) finds an offbeat way to recast an iconic piece of recent history through the personal stories of a pair of vastly different characters.