Customer Reviews for

Increment: A Novel

Average Rating 4
( 33 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted September 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fun Espionage Thriller

    David Ignatius creates and builds upon an engagingly textured environment of spies and third world nuclear threat to create a realistic and fun espionage thriller. While I'd give Ignatius' effort three starts for the intricacies of the fiction as literature, I'd move it to a solid four stars for the well-woven and well-paced plot.

    The story revolves around a young Iranian scientist who sends the CIA a subtly coded message exposing Iran's efforts in developing nuclear weapons. His mode of communication is the "contact us" link available on the CIA's public website. Ignatius writes, "...occasionally the strange people who sent anonymous messages to the CIA were for real. They knew secrets; they were angry at their government, or the security service, or maybe just at the boss down the hall." In this case, the message was very real, and this communication becomes the launching point for Ignatius' tautly written novel.

    The story bounces between CIA headquarters outside of Washington, D.C., Iran, London and other points in the Middles East. It's in London where we learn the meaning behind the novel's title. The Increment is the informal and off-the-books British force that's pulled into only the highest of security missions, and the only forces that truly have James Bond's legendary 'license to kill'.

    The plot hums along, and the characters, while sometimes clichéd, are believable. The main threads of the story follow an aging America CIA agent in charge of operations in Iran. He's grizzled and jaded, and the most morally consistent and clear of all characters in the story. An old friend and colleague is a senior officer in the British spy agency who's brought in to help with the operation as it moves to Tehran. The Iranian scientist is sincere and sad. While not terrifically deep, Ignatius crafts this character strongly enough that the reader will actually care and root for his success and safety. Few characters are exclusively what they seem. They're a little good, and a little bad. Characteristics lean towards one side or the other based on whose side they appear to support. But as the plot develops, it becomes clear that some larger chess pieces are orbiting around the primary characters.

    I don't read particularly quickly, but this story I knocked off in only 3 days. At times "The Increment" is more mystery than adventure, and the thrill is in the creation, build up and execution of Ignatius' well though-through plan. He smoothly slams home a twisty, curvy conclusion that I wasn't expecting. All in all this was a satisfying read for what it is: a fun thriller with a very old-school spy vibe. I definitely recommend this read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2011

    Makes CSPAN Senate hearings interesting

    I finished this on the day of the vote for more sanctions (12-1-11) and their discussions were almost right out of this book. The book raises some big questions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

    good for the times in which we live...

    I was anticipating the reading of this book- after hearing the author on NPR...but although an engaging and fast read (the reader wants to "see" what will happen next), it wasn't too complex.
    Stringing in the native language (farsi?) was interesting, and i could see a journalist who spent time there doing that~ but something was missing from the plot. I needed a little more, though the corruption possible in western governments and their diplomatic ties was interesting to learn, and hear about.

    The idea of an Iranian not happy with the direction his country has headed, after having a revolutionary father, and being educated in the western world, that would have mass appeal - to Americans and British, but not so sure about a wider audience. The corruption and capitalism revealed in the plot was a nice catch for this high school history/govt/economics teacher.
    Would make an interesting film, should he sell the rights.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 5, 2012

    Recommended

    Spy novel quite relevent to to 2012 issues, even if it is a few years old. Well written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Highly recommended.

    Great story of modern day spying in Iran. Clearly, you can tell that the author knew the country, and had done his research into the subject matter. This is the second David Ignatius book that I read. He has an excellent style of writing that draws you in to the story. What struck me the most is knowledge of the area and a strong building of his characters in his books. A very good read.

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  • Posted September 15, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Good Read, On the Beach or By the Fire

    The Increment by David Ignatius is an above average spy novel. The author is strong on story, strong on setting, and weak on characters. The author knows the Middle East and has more than a basic grasp of the world of intelligence.
    The author's familiarity with the Middle East makes it come alive to someone who has only seen it portrayed in the movies. He obviously understands this area, its customs and its complexities. He describes this setting in a manner that makes his story believable if not inevitable.
    His sometimes simplistic descriptions of intelligence objectives, operations, operatives, and analysis only follows the trend of most spy fiction. It was probably done primarily at the insistence of his editors and publisher, in order to produce a book in keeping with the genre and thereby commercially exploitable. His book is a cut above the spy novels of most of his contemporaries.
    His characters are flat, two dimensional at the most. He sometime mistakes character surprises for character development. But his story is engrossing and it moves along at a pace that keeps the reader's interest and his fingers turning pages. And in another way that sets David Ignatius above his contemporaries, he resorts to only one or two minor, gimmicky story twists so that the reader is left with a consistent and highly enjoyable story of suspense.

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  • Posted September 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    IRAN SPY STORY

    I was attracted to the book by the unusal details about life in Iran, which is all the news these days. I also like a good spy story. I was a little more than half right.

    The day to day life in Iran details are very interesting, and they take up much of the beginning of the book. Then in the middle of the book the spy story takes over. Lots and lots of spy craft. How to find a person willing to spy on his country. How to communicate with the spy, getting information from him, and contacting him back with questions and encouragement. So much spy craft it became tedious and I began to suspect much of it was filler to add pages to the book. It didn't help the characters were from central casting, nothing new in type or depth.

    There is some good action at the end, somewhat blunted by the fact I didn't particularly care about any of the characters. So all in all this is a B-/C+ grade of book.

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

    News as Novel

    First read from this author and I am looking forward to getting his older books. The plot was realistic, the characters were human and even though the plot was an offshoot from the news headlines, it was convincing. Ranks right up there with Follet and the other spy novel authors.

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  • Posted June 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Body of Iranian Lies

    Harry Pappas is a career CIA man who regrets not doing more to stop the war in Iraq, especially after losing his son there. When sinister forces in the White House and at the CIA seem intent on yet another war, this one against Iran, Pappas goes out of agency to do what he wishes he had done years ago- stop a war. He turns to his long ally in the British spy services at Vauxhall Cross. But here the deceit and treachery begin as Pappas tries to bring out an Iranian nuclear scientist who can possibly help with the info needed to stop the war forces. Shady hands get involved as the extraction becomes more complicated, and soon friends are full of surprises and lies spin as easily as the truth. Pappas learns some last lessons in his trade that help him maintain his determined goal. The Increment is a spy thriller for the intelligent reader who likes the twists and turns more than the explosions.

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    Posted September 30, 2010

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