War on Terror and its fallout will no doubt provide fodder for
novel plots for years, if not decades, to come. AN ACCIDENTAL
AMERICAN by Alex Carr takes a somewhat unique perspective on the
War on Terror in general and the Iraqi war in particular, tying in
the mistakes of the past with the disasters of the present in both
international and personal affairs.
Nicole Blake is an ex-convict who is living a quiet, blissfully
boring existence on a self-sustaining farm in the French Pyrenees.
But her life is shattered when John Valsamis, a no-nonsense CIA
agent, appears on her doorstep requesting her assistance in
locating Rahim Ali. Blake's former lover from a lifetime ago, Ali
appears to be involved with a terrorist cell that is planning a
major incident, making it imperative that he be located.
Valsamis secures Blake's reluctant cooperation by playing upon the
death of her mother --- murdered in a terrorist attack --- but
Blake discovers all too soon that Valsamis has a history of
treachery that stretches back in time and distance, even as his
past has intersected with Blake's in ways she cannot even begin to
imagine, let alone believe.
Betrayed and in mortal danger, the only person Blake can trust is
an extremely unlikely and unwilling ally whose innocence is at once
a virtue and a hindrance. Pursued by a hunter who seems able to
find her at will, Blake not only must save herself and her
unexpected companion, but also bring to an end the scheme in which
she finds herself immersed, even as she is staggered by discoveries
revealing that practically everything she knew about herself and
her world is wrong.
AN ACCIDENTAL AMERICAN is reminiscent of the best work of John le
Carre, informed with a world-weariness even as each page is infused
with tension and danger as Blake, who gets deeper and deeper into a
situation she does not understand, finds that those around her each
have their own agendas. A page-turner that does not sacrifice
literacy at the altar of expediency, it is a quietly explosive work
that haunts and excites with each paragraph.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010