Unknown Soldier

( 2 )


"Hidden in the world's greatest desert a tiny caravan of fugitives inches towards its goal. It is a place where only the strongest and most determined will survive. In the caravan one man stands out. His strength, self-imposed discipline and leadership mark him. He is an Outsider whose past is blanked from his memory. And his loyalty to the leadership is total." "Searching for him in the limitless dunes are American and British experts in counter-terrorism with a full range of sophisticated electronics at hand. Hunting him from above is the
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"Hidden in the world's greatest desert a tiny caravan of fugitives inches towards its goal. It is a place where only the strongest and most determined will survive. In the caravan one man stands out. His strength, self-imposed discipline and leadership mark him. He is an Outsider whose past is blanked from his memory. And his loyalty to the leadership is total." "Searching for him in the limitless dunes are American and British experts in counter-terrorism with a full range of sophisticated electronics at hand. Hunting him from above is the unmanned Predator aircraft, invisible in the cloudless skies, carrying the Hellfire missiles. But he is no easy prey." If they fail to find and kill him, if he reaches his family and receives his orders, the Outsider will disappear again, before re-emerging in a teeming western city with a suitcase that will wreak mass murder when it is detonated.

The Unknown Soldier is being marketed as a "thrillingly suspenseful novel from one of the world's masters of espionage fiction," which is accurate enough and presumably will do it good in the bookstores, but it sells the book short. Like the work of other writers to whom Seymour is somewhat predictably compared -- Charles McCarry, Robert Littell, Alan Furst and, of course, John le Carré -- The Unknown Soldier is more than a thriller. In time, events will outpace it, and the specifics of its plot will lose their immediacy, but the deeper matters with which Seymour concerns himself will retain their pertinence and importance. Today's and tomorrow's events are the framework around which the novel is constructed, but it is about people, not bombs. It is about why people do what they do, believe what they do, love and hate as they do. Psychologically it is acute and sensitive. If this is merely "genre fiction," then perhaps we need to take a closer look at what we rather smugly call "literature."— The Washington Post

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The plot of Seymour's skilled thriller could be a contemporary headline-"Al Qaeda Terrorist Escapes; Allies Pursue Through Desert"-but it wouldn't communicate the depth and density of the novel, which gets so deep under the skin of its characters that it's more impressive for its portraits of people caught in thorny situations than it is for its race-against-the-clock suspense story. The narrative begins with a man named Caleb, aka Abu Khaleb, fleeing to the mountains of Afghanistan. Captured by American soldiers, he passes himself off as a taxi driver pining to get back to his family. Released after nearly two years at Guant namo, this so-called "peasant from up-country" escapes from the soldiers taking him back to Kabul. Gradually, Seymour reveals the truth: this everyman is a terrorist mastermind, and the family he seeks to return to is his al-Qaeda cell, which plans to use him as the triggerman for a dirty bomb targeted for a major city. Pursuing this British-born terrorist with his "shitty little heart filled with hate" are crackerjack American pilots of unmanned planes, Marty and Lizzie-Jo, as well as British spook Eddie Wroughton, who's squeezing a spineless doctor for info, among others. Although his plot simmers more than boils, Seymour (The Untouchable; Killing Ground; etc.) offers an engrossing and thought-provoking look at an all-too-possible crisis. Agent, Sterling Lord Literistic. 75,000 first printing; $75,000 marketing budget. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
British-born Caleb Hunt, recruited and trained in Afghanistan by al Qaeda, has been imprisoned for two years at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Having convinced intelligence specialists that he is an innocent taxi driver from Kabul, he is slated to be released. Before he can be turned over to the Afghanis for final processing, however, he escapes. Soon he is in the hands of men who lead him on a grueling journey into the vast deserts of Saudi Arabia, where he hopes to rejoin his terrorist "family" and complete a mission of terrifying devastation. Caleb is the ultimate horror for counterintelligence officers-that unknown soldier who is "one of us," a Westerner, yet an enemy. Author of 17 novels, Seymour (A Line in the Sand) constructs a complicated scenario with masterful clarity, following the actions of more than seven intriguing characters. As the suspense builds, an unsettling realization sinks in that the reader might have been sympathizing with a character who is a deadly terrorist. This intelligent, solidly entertaining thriller is highly recommended.-Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Once again applying the best techniques of the classic Cold War thriller to the god-awful morass we're now bogged down in, Seymour (A Line in the Sand, 2000, etc.) follows a hate-seeking human projectile into the heart of the Arabian Desert on his way to a reunion with al Qaeda. Young, intelligent and motivated by a loathing for the West as strong as any native jihadist, the operative known as Abu Khaleb was once a Brit named Caleb. Swept up in an ambush in Afghanistan, Caleb had the presence of mind to latch onto the identity of a cab driver killed in the same raid, an identity he maintained through two years in the Guantanamo prison camp. His apparent innocence and cultural simplicity made him suitable for one of the periodic releases from the camp, an opportunity that gets him out just before repatriation. Seymour follows the efforts of American and British human and electronic intelligence gatherers as they begin to understand that the supposedly simple taxi driver is so important to the hunkered-down al Qaeda leadership that they'll go to any lengths to bring him to their cave in the center of the Saudi wasteland in order to equip him with the filthiest of radioactive weapons. Third-generation British spy Eddie Wroughton works his Riyadh network of informers, including washed-up physician Samuel "Bart" Bartholomew, for scraps of information about Saudi plans and treachery; American Defense Intelligence officer Jed Dietrich, Caleb's Guantanamo inquisitor, sifts through his own records; and American techies Lizzy Jo and Marty manipulate their pair of armed drone aircraft over endless miles of desert in search of Caleb's caravan. Professional and national jealousies complicate the work,as does the encounter between the terrorists on their camels and a comely scientist in her Land Rover. Unrushed but thoroughly fascinating look into the making and pursuit of the most frightening kind of terrorist, one of our own. First printing of 75,000; $75,000 ad/promo budget. Agency: Sterling Lord Literistic
From the Publisher
“Gerald Seymour is one of Britain’s foremost pacy thriller writes.”
Sunday Express

“…one of the best plotters in the business.”
Time Out

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585676347
  • Publisher: Overlook
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2005

    The Unknown Soldier is now fact

    Gerald Seymour is my favourite writer.Fast paced and with an unmatched depth of charecterisation,this book is ominously prescient.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2012

    You just can't keep the book down.

    You just can't keep the book down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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