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Innocent Blood

Innocent Blood

by Christopher Dickey

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He is the perfect terrorist.

He's an all-American boy.

Kurt Kurtovic is someone you might know — and ought to fear.

Kurt was a U.S. Army Ranger. Born and raised in Kansas, he was trained to kill for — what? Once he might have said "for God and country." Kurt searches in the former Yugoslavia, the land of his parents, for a place, for faith,


He is the perfect terrorist.

He's an all-American boy.

Kurt Kurtovic is someone you might know — and ought to fear.

Kurt was a U.S. Army Ranger. Born and raised in Kansas, he was trained to kill for — what? Once he might have said "for God and country." Kurt searches in the former Yugoslavia, the land of his parents, for a place, for faith, for a cause. In the midst of the horrors in Bosnia, Kurt is recruited to fight by a holy warrior, a terrorist Iago, who plays on all of Kurt's doubts and fears: America is the evil behind the horror, but Kurt can change it. He can take the war home. He can penetrate to the heart of the U.S. elite. He can teach his country a lesson so horrible it will never forget.

In this riveting story of war, love, and deception, Christopher Dickey takes us to the white-hot core of the terrorist mind. Innocent Blood is as real as today's headlines — and tomorrow's.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dickey, a journalist who is now Newsweek's Paris bureau chief, pulls a lot of recent headlines into a surprisingly stable synthesis in order to get inside the head of a terrorist. "I come from Westfield, Kansas, down near the Oklahoma border. Flat lands. Pickup truck lands." Thus does Kurt Kurtovic introduce himself. The very fact that Kurt, the son of Yugoslavian immigrants, could be the boy next door carries us along through the first section of the book. After an alienating childhood and his Muslim father's death, Kurt becomes a U.S. Army Ranger. Dickey shows us his arduous training and moves on to the richly detailed horrors of duty in Panama and the Gulf Warall of this informed by Kurt's inability to make personal connections in a smug America. By 1991, when Kurt has left the Army and is in Zagreb trying to find some traces of his father's life, we know him so well that his decision to join up with the mysterious Rashid seems natural. When that decision brings him to New York and a looming act of terror, it's all made credible by what we have learned about the men behind it. By adding Panama and the Gulf War to the Bosnian plot, Dickey does slightly overstuff his novel with yesterday's news. But at the center of it all is a powerful, plausible story of one man's transformation from a Kansas schoolboy into a Muslim terrorist. The pace is fast, and Dickey succeeds admirably in showing both the psychology and the impeccable, chilling logic that can underlie the most violent behavior. (June) FYI: Christopher Dickey is the son of the late poet and novelist James Dickey, author of Deliverance.
Library Journal
Kurt Kurtovic is a former U.S. Army demolitions expert who, after seeing action in Panama and the Gulf War, resigns and travels to Europe in search of his family's roots. There he encounters Rashid, a friend from the Gulf, who provides him with the closest thing to a family he has ever known. Kurtovic becomes a Muslim and joins an armed faction in Bosnia, using his expertise to kill and destroy. Tired of the senseless killing, he returns to America. Then Rashid asks him to help spread the smallpox virus all over America, ostensibly to get the attention of a nation that ignores the plight of Muslims. Almost too late, Kurt discovers that Rashid is an agent for Saddam Hussein. Dickey (Expats, LJ 6/15/90) probes the psyche of a modern-day terrorist motivated not by religious belief but by loneliness and rootlessness. Not a fast-paced thriller, this intriguing psychological study is all the more frightening because it takes place here and now. For medium and large public libraries.Grant A. Fredericksen, Illinois Prairie Dist. P.L., Metamora
Kirkus Reviews
A first novel from Newsweek correspondent Dickey (Expats, 1990, etc.) that honorably attempts—and ultimately fails—to detail the making of a latter-day terrorist.

The son of Yugoslav refugees who wound up in rural Kansas, Kurt Kurtovic joins the US Army out of high-school to escape a dead-end existence with his widowed mother. He readily takes to the military life and works his way into the Rangers, becoming a demolitions expert. Although raised a Catholic, Kurt develops a growing interest in the hushed-up Islamic faith of his dead father. On a behind-the-lines mission during the Gulf War, he links up with the sinister Rashid, who calls himself a Kuwaiti freedom fighter. Vaguely discontented after the guns fall silent, Kurt leaves the Army and journeys to Bosnia in search of his family's past. In the Balkans, he runs into Rashid, who opens Kurt's eyes to the genocidal campaign Croats and Serbs are waging against indigenous Muslims. Following months of hill-country combat with Islamic irregulars, Kurt goes back to New York City to support Rashid's jihad, helping to create an anti-personnel bomb built around a smallpox virus. It finally occurs to the apprentice terrorist that the shifty Rashid (who, it turns out, is an agent of Saddam Hussein's) plans more than a controlled release for blackmail or demonstration purposes. At the close, Kurt is speeding to an Atlanta sports arena to kill his charismatic mentor before he can unleash the deadly toxin.

In terms of his religious convictions and disaffection with the US, Kurt never quite comes to life. As a result, the sporadically suspenseful narrative lacks the menace it obviously was intended to have in recounting the metamorphosis of a likely all-American lad into an alienated avenger.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
0.75(w) x 5.50(h) x 8.50(d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Dickey, Newsweek's award-winning Paris bureau chief and Middle East editor, reports regularly from Baghdad, Cairo, and Jerusalem, and writes the weekly "Shadowland" column — an inside look at the world of spies and soldiers, guerrillas and suicide bombers — for Newsweek Online. He is the author of Summer of Deliverance, Expats, With the Contras, and the novel Innocent Blood. He lives in Paris.

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