New York Times best-selling author Michael Gruber, a member of the elite ranks of those who can both “chill the blood and challenge the mind” (Denver Post), delivers a taut, multilayered, riveting novel of suspense.
Somewhere in Pakistan, Sonia Laghari and eight fellow members of a symposium on peace are being held captive by armed terrorists. Laghari, a deeply religious woman as well as a Jungian psychologist, has become the de facto leader of the kidnapped group. While her son, Theo, an ex-Delta soldier, uses his military connections to find and free the victims, Sonia Laghari tries to keep them all alive by working her way into the kidnappers’ psyches and interpreting their dreams. With her knowledge of their language, her familiarity with their religion, and her Jungian training, she confounds her captors with her insights and beliefs. When the kidnappers decide to kill their captives one by one, in retaliation for perceived crimes against their country, Theo races against the clock to try and save their lives.
©2010 Michael Gruber (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Superb….the brilliant character development and labyrinthine plot line, not to mention the absorbing history of modern jihadism and the U.S. war on terrorism, make this a provocative thriller that readers won't soon forget.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Gruber leaves his own mark on the thriller scene.” (New York Times)
“Gruber weaves the threads together masterfully while successfully exploring themes of family, duty, loyalty, cultural identity and more, without ever slowing the momentum. Smart, tense and vastly entertaining.” (Kirkus Reviews)
My husband and I often disagree on politics, so I wasn't sure how it would be to drive across the country listening to a story about Pakistan, and about American involvement in the conflicts of the area. We both loved this book. We were captivated by the story and intellectually engaged by the ideas here. Gruber's characters make every argument imaginable for and against various political positions, violent and covert operations, and religious practices and they do so in ways that make it possible to regard even those characters with whom one disagrees as sympathetic.
The story is packed with philosophy, religion, psychology, anthropology, and political theory, yet it is not weighed down by them. All the talking works in this action thriller; in fact, it is hard to imagine the story or the character development without it. We have to hear from the characters in order not to dismiss them as "the other" when they do horrible things.
The book is read very well by Neil Shah. The cast of characters is as large as a 19th c. Russian novel so it's possible to be confused sometimes, and Shah maintains different voice tones and accents well so that you can recognize who is speaking.
As someone who spent 5 years working in the Middle East this book perfectly reflects the Arab world and Muslim culture. It also captures the failure of the average American to have any understanding of the complexity of these tribal societies. A real eye opener.
living in los angeles I drive a lot, so audio books save me from a lot of frustration!
This is an amazing book for those of you who like literary/intellectual thrillers. Gruber has a political background and his insight into the inner workings of the fundamentalist mindset feels astoundingly real. The most unforgettable character is Sonia,a woman who ran away from her Pakistani husband and posed as a Pashtun boy in order to travel to Mecca with a Sufi master. Later in life, after a family tragedy, she becomes a Jungian analyst. In the present, she is being held hostage by the Taliban. Using her training, she interpreting their dreams and skillfully manipulates her captors.
after reading several books re arabic stories which try to explain cultural differences, I wasn't sure I wanted to read another one, however this story is very entertaning and keeps the reader interested in what happens next. the story seems to have insight into the ailenation sometimes experienced by children raised in two very different cultures. the mother character may be an offshoot of the ancient chinese curse paraphrased into "May you have an interesting mother." the ending is a bit of fantasy but who is say that fiction cannot do that , certainly not me. I recommend it a worth the time for the story and the charactersd.
#1 Aud Bks: T Help,T Darling, All D Sedaris,Prayer for Owen M.All G Flynn ,Secrt Lang of Bees, Bel Canto, 11/22/63 H2O fr Elephants Dog Star
A great, imaginative adventure story. Some necessary violence ( it is the Jihad), but most of the bad guys get there do. Some of the good or innocent are not spared pain, but it is minimal.
There are some very imaginative takes on Islam and petropolitics that I have never run across before. Great central character. A definite page turner without embarrassment.
I initially put 3 stars for the story because it strains some credulity. But I changed it to 4 stars. The author requests a little leap of imagination, and he delivers.
great story, you learn a ton about Pakistan & Afghanistan, and very good narration. One of -- if not the -- best of the now 42 Audible books I've done
This book has me memorized, not only because of the captivating prose but because it has made me understand the vast differences in the people of the western world and the middle east. But, the religions are so alike at the core!
... the first 17, not so much. I found no sympathy for the two principal characters. Only Cynthia, the NSA employee, was interesting because she introduced some tension into the story. Add to that - Mr. Shah read the story as one would deliver a parable or fairy tale, rendering each description and dialogue broad and sweeping. A poor reading can ruin a good book; perhaps I would have enjoyed the story more had the delivery been more straightforward. Another of Mr. Gruber's books I read in hard copy was very good. But that's beside the point. *This* product was long, tiring, and boring.
A lot of this story dragged slowly on and on for me. There was too much discussion of religion, poetry and peace; and too much analyzing of the Muslim psyche. Furthermore, there were too many dream interpretations by one of the main characters, Sonia. I did not particularly like her, or her son Theo. Theo is not a very realistic character, and in fact, neither is his mother Sonia.
The story is way too long but does have an exciting ending. If you can drag yourself to the end, it may be worth it. To me it was not.
It is going to be hard for me to pick up another book written by Michael Gruber because I was so disappointed in this one. I definitely would not recommend this book.
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