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Posted June 19, 2013
I'm not generally a reader of thrillers, but I was interested in
I'm not generally a reader of thrillers, but I was interested in this book because of its setting in 21st-century Afghanistan, and its exploration of the mind-boggling obstacles involved in "nation building." The protagonist, Sonny, works for the US Agency for International Development. Sonny is involved in a deeply emotional and somewhat difficult love affair with Clara, the local head of an operation that opens and maintains health clinics for the benefit of children and women in the province. Clara is a dedicated and religious woman, in love with Sonny, but conflicted about her own (mostly repressed) sexuality. When Clara is kidnapped, Sonny, with little to go on, is determined to find her and save her life in spite of the odds.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
From this premise, Henderson explores many aspects of a complex and difficult-to-understand culture, as well as the economic and logistical issues involved in promoting development in a region that is extremely poor and historically dependent on the drug trade. While layering on complications concerning Clara's disappearance, Henderson gives us glimpses into the lives and personalities of a wide range of Afghanis and foreigners (military personnel, civilian government aid workers, private contractors, and employees of non-governmental aid organizations).
The reason this isn't a 5-star review is that I found Sonny a bit underdrawn. Most of the other characters display their strengths and weaknesses (or dark and light sides) in abundance. About Sonny we learn relatively little -- he has a great interest in jazz, seems to have a sensitive nature, and everyone thinks he's very good at his job. I found that hard to judge and did not really connect with him as much as I would like.
I found the other characters, particularly the Afghanis (who display a believably wide range of motivations and personalities), to be sufficiently complex to hold my interest. Henderson includes enough believable twists to keep you (and Sonny) guessing about who did what right up until the end.
Posted March 9, 2013
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