Sunday, April 19, 2009

Book Review: The Increment

Title: The Increment: A Novel
Author: David Ignatius
Rating ****
Tags iran, spy story, thriller, nuclear weapons, fiction

Ignatius is a journalist who has been reporting on the Middle East for more than 25 years. So part of the fun of this novel is trying to figure out what parts reflect insider knowledge. Ignatius knows this and says don't do it, it's a chump's game, but only AFTER the book is over. So it doesn't destroy the fun.

The novel is about a CIA agent in charge of the Iran desk, Harry Pappas. A message comes through the CIA's public web site that appears to come from a nuclear scientist in Iran offering to share information. If true, it would be unique and extremely valuable. Harry has to verify the information the scientist sends, and figure out whether he is in danger and needs to be extracted or whether he can be kept in place, and how to keep in touch with him since the U.S. has no agents in Iran.

It is a good thriller. Harry is a good character, the best-realized in the book. The other characters are adequate, but Harry is central. The depiction of life in Iran is interesting and one assumes fairly accurate. The plot is ok, maybe three stars instead of four.

The Increment is a recommended adventure read.

Publication W.W. Norton & Co. (2009), Edition: 1st American Edition, Hardcover, 400 pages
Publication date 2009
ISBN 0393065049 / 9780393065046

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