Friday, May 15, 2009

The Increment

Iran. Mention that country to most Americans and the word that comes to their minds is “nuclear.” The new  international thriller by David Ignatius takes that fear and spins it into a fascinating novel – one that at times seems more probable than impossible.

At the heart of the book is CIA man extraordinaire Harry Pappas (Ignatius readers will remember him from BODY OF LIES). This time Harry is playing the spy game with a broken heart having lost his only son in the current Iraq War. It sets the stage in unique ways as he attempts to discern the validity of an encrypted message from an Iranian nuclear scientist who is willing to share the country’s bomb secrets in return for safe harbor.

With help from the British (and the “Increment” a special SAS team) Harry must decide if and how the young scientist can be retrieved from Iran.

The author takes  a sideswipe at American politicians eager to believe anything about Iran’s nuclear capability and thus use the country for target practice. Seems  trigger happy  politicos really exist in D.C. - shoot now and ask questions later mentality. Ignatius builds a novel about finding  truth in a maze and where the answers lead to more puzzles. He walks a fine line between the novel and the news. 

It is rare to find humanity in a spy thriller but Ignatius captures Harry’s heart, which gives the reader one more reason to keep turning the pages and reach the stunning conclusion.