Bought this on the suggestion of a friend for "light" reading as we hung out together in a bookstore. What a roller coaster ride of a thriller! Started it in print, misplaced it, listened to it, and the end couldn't wait, so finished it in print.
While I was reading this, I kept thinking that most of us have a life full of adventures and major life events, but they are not usually told all at once unless one is writing a biography, but it seems that we hear the life story of Scott Murdoch in this one book. Of course his life story is exponentially more exciting than ours. When I was done with the book, I realized the author had threaded every past experience from Scott into the solution or resolution of this story. There seemed to be no loose threads at the end. I liked that the story of how he had learned to sail from his father comes into play at the end. Maybe the art collection could have been played out more, but it did have a resolution of sorts.
The narrator is Scott or Pilgrim or one of many names he used over the years as a special secret agent of the U.S. We meet him at a crime scene in New York, where he has been asked to consult by the NYPD's Ben Bradley. This seemingly unconnected perfect crime, based on a book about crime investigation written by Scott under the name of Jude Garrett, does connect with future events. Here are some of the stories we get:
- Perfect murder in NYC post 911
- Scott's childhood Harvard education and recruitment, early career
- A mole in Moscow
- Greek drug dealing family acting as money men for Moscow
- Child visiting an almost forgotten Nazi concentration camp and an image of a woman and her children walking to their death leaves a never to be forgotten impression
- Words of wisdom from a monk in Thailand
- Retiring and living in Paris to write book
- Ben Bradley in 911
- Ben Bradley discovering Jude Garrett's identity
- Crazy operation in Bodrum Turkey years ago
- Wild parties in the ruins of a city partially underwater
- Investigating the death of a rich American in Bodrum
- Cumali, the female cop in Bodrum and her cute son
And those are just some of the stories from our hero's life. We get as many from the "bad guy", Zakaria al-Nassouri, but called Saracen throughout the book, a name that means "Arab" and in an older form "nomad." So of course our story is about the great hatred that some Arabs have towards the West, especially the United States. The Saracen's fate is sealed by the beheading of his father in Saudi Arabia. He turns to a very conservative mosque, goes to fight in Afghanistan, changes identities and becomes a doctor and hatches a most awful weapon to destroy America. He is as intuitive and intelligent as Scott and it is fascinating to see his evolution, the factors that contribute to his hatred, the chaos of the Middle East where he can lose himself, the brilliance of his plans. I did like the fact that this book took us to many countries around the globe.
It is strange, maybe even inappropriate, to be reading this book about Middle Eastern terrorist enemies in a time when we are trying to keep calm after our administration spews such inappropriate things against immigrants and non-Americans. I know that most Muslims and Arabs just want peace in the world. But with the lack of respect shown by our leadership, I am afraid that more will become fearful and that fear can turn to hate. I do not know how to combat those groups that teach hatred towards others, other than to stand up for the rights of our immigrants (as were my parents), international students, refugees and welcome them, as they have all helped make our country a better place.