The Convert's Song: A Novel

Overview

A global manhunt sweeps up a former federal agent when his childhood friend becomes the chief suspect in a terrorist rampage.

His hazardous stint in U.S. law enforcement behind him, Valentine Pescatore has started over as a private investigator in Buenos Aires. Then he runs into a long-lost friend: Raymond Mercer, a charismatic, troubled singer who has converted to Islam. After a terrorist attack kills hundreds, suspicion falls on Raymond—-and ...

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The Convert's Song: A Novel

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Overview

A global manhunt sweeps up a former federal agent when his childhood friend becomes the chief suspect in a terrorist rampage.

His hazardous stint in U.S. law enforcement behind him, Valentine Pescatore has started over as a private investigator in Buenos Aires. Then he runs into a long-lost friend: Raymond Mercer, a charismatic, troubled singer who has converted to Islam. After a terrorist attack kills hundreds, suspicion falls on Raymond—-and Pescatore.

Angry and bewildered, Pescatore joins forces with Fatima Belhaj, an alluring French agent. They pursue the enigmatic Raymond into a global labyrinth of intrigue. Is he a terrorist, a gangster, a spy? Is his loyalty to Pescatore genuine, or just another lethal scam?

From the jungles of South America to the streets of Paris to the battlegrounds of Baghdad, THE CONVERT'S SONG leads Pescatore on a race to stop a high-stakes campaign of terror.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/13/2014
Valentine Pescatore, the hero of Rotella’s excellent second thriller, left his job as a U.S. Border Patrol agent to become a PI in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There he runs into Raymond Mercer, his former best friend, whom he hasn’t heard from since they were teenagers in Chicago. A charming, failed singer, Raymond has converted to Islam, but is vague about what he does for a living. When hundreds are killed in a terrorist attack at a shopping mall near the city’s garment district, the authorities suspect that Raymond and Valentine committed the crime. To clear his name, Valentine works with French agent Fatima Belhaj to pursue Raymond across the globe, from South American jungles to Paris and Baghdad. Valentine realizes how little he knows about his former friend. Is Raymond a terrorist or an informant, a spy or a scam artist? Rotella (Triple Crossing) ratchets up the action with an absorbing look at international politics. Agent: Bonnie Nadell, Hill Nadell Literary Agency. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
"The Convert's Song is that rare thing, a rousing thriller with heart and heartbreak. . . . An affecting drama of human ties, raising big themes of loyalty, obligation, loss and love. . . . [Rotella's] prose is vivid and precise, his sense of setting sharply illuminating. . . . He's also a thoughtful writer, treating the loaded topic of Islamic terrorism with commendable subtlety. . . . A skillfully layered thriller"—Steph Cha, Los Angeles Times

"I read like a zealot, following Valentine as fast as I could into the thick of Argentina's criminal justice system and into the thicket of international terror. . . . The story got me in a chokehold as the characters grew more and more complex and Rotella's style thickened and boiled and bubbled."—Alan Cheuse, NPR

"Excellent . . . Rotella ratchets up the action with an absorbing look at international politics."—
Publishers Weekly (starred)

"The Convert's Song is a revelation. Sure, it's a smart, gripping thriller that will have you turning the pages at high speed. But it's also a deep, emotionally resonant story of identity, friendship, and faith. . . . I loved it."—
Ivy Pochoda, author of
Visitation Street

"The Convert's Song hooked me from its opening scene and kept me hooked to the very end. Sebastian Rotella has written a novel filled with suspense and intrigue, as well as real-world insights into those who commit terrorist acts and those who try to stop them."—Ron Rash, author of Serena and The Cove

Kirkus Reviews
2014-10-23
Former Border Agent Valentine Pescatore, now working as a private investigator in Argentina following his undercover misadventures in Triple Crossing (2011), has his life thrown further into chaos following a terrorist attack in Buenos Aires.Who's responsible for the shootings and bombings at a Jewish shopping mall: al-Qaida? The Iranians? The Lebanese (and if so, the Shiites or the Sunnis)? And where is Pescatore's shady friend Raymond Mercer, a rock musician, drug dealer and informant who's converted to Islam? No sooner has Pescatore started investigating than he's mistakenly arrested and abused by police—whose police, exactly, he's not sure. Things pick up when he's teamed with a sexy French counterterrorism agent, Fatima Belhaj, especially when she takes a liking to him. They follow the terror trail back to Europe, where Pescatore learns the difference between agitation by Islamic extremists and gang riots in France—and is joined by his former boss and girlfriend from San Diego, Isabel Puente, in Spain. Rotella, who made his name as an investigative reporter, makes the far-flung complexities of geopolitical terror come alive on the page, colorfully differentiating among all the ethnic and national groups while distinguishing between the two basic types of terrorists: "furious madmen and cold mercenaries." For all its darkness and danger, the book boasts a streak of hard-boiled humor that puts it in the company of some top espionage novels. It's also an enjoyably musical book, with references ranging from Louis Prima to Astor Piazzolla to Bruce Springsteen, Rotella serves up international intrigue with a delectable twist.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316324694
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 12/9/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 111,976
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Sebastian Rotella is the author of Triple Crossing, which the New York Times Book Review named its favorite debut crime novel of 2011, and the nonfiction book Twilight on the Line. He is a senior reporter for ProPublica, a newsroom dedicated to investigative journalism in the public interest. He covers international security issues. He worked for twenty-three years for the Los Angeles Times, serving as bureau chief in Paris and Buenos Aires and the correspondent at the Mexican border. His honors include a Peabody Award; Columbia University's Dart Award and Moors Cabot Prize for Latin American coverage; the German Marshall Fund's Weitz Prize for reporting in Europe; five Overseas Press Club Awards; The Urbino Prize of Italy, and an Emmy nomination. He was a Pulitzer finalist for international reporting in 2006.

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