My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book just did not do anything for me; the story itself is so simple that I can’t help but give away the basic overlay. The story has 4.5 stars on Amazon as I write this, so be sure to look at other opinions.
A soda pop executive is estranged from his daughter for many years; he takes a corporate stint in Pakistan after his wife divorces him. He daughter is murdered; he gets kidnapped, ransomed, then murdered. The end.
In the middle is a long story that his woman handler/captor tells him about a life his daughter never had. And a story about himself. It is these stories that make up the bulk of the novel and if there is a point to it, it eludes me.
[END SPOILER ALERT – MOSTLY]
It just doesn’t add up to me; it doesn’t come across as a realistic portrayal of how a kidnapped American in Pakistan would be treated – based on Bowe Bergdahl’s treatment as outlined in the Serial podcast. Would an American woman who joined the Pakistani’s really be left for hours to talk with a captive with no man around? It doesn’t seem likely. Wouldn’t the experience be more brutal? Almost certainly.
Life is miserable and then you die. Perhaps it is stories that give our lives’ meaning? Is that the point?
The kidnap/story-within-a-story device is stretched. The basic overlay could have been told in a more believable way I think. The very basics of his captors and what is going on to effect his release is completely missing. To be generous, this probably mirrors his knowledge of the situation.
It rises a bit above the utterly bleak “Ninety-Two in the Shade” by Thomas McGuane and “Ransom” by Jay Mcinerney which put be off reading modern fiction back in the 90s. Novels don’t have to have happy endings; but there has to be some glimpse of something that approaches realistic.