Try the Morgue: A Novel

Overview

From a real-life female gunrunner comes this international bestseller and unforgettable literary debut.
Ten years ago, “Eva Maria Staal” kept a gun in her purse. It was a present from her boss, Jimmy Liu, the international arms dealer extraordinaire with a taste for high-class male escorts. Together, Jimmy and his devoted assistant traveled the world’s most dangerous hotspots, closing deals with ruthless warlords and corrupt generals, and trading Stinger missiles in Karachi, ...

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Try the Morgue: A Novel

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Overview

From a real-life female gunrunner comes this international bestseller and unforgettable literary debut.
Ten years ago, “Eva Maria Staal” kept a gun in her purse. It was a present from her boss, Jimmy Liu, the international arms dealer extraordinaire with a taste for high-class male escorts. Together, Jimmy and his devoted assistant traveled the world’s most dangerous hotspots, closing deals with ruthless warlords and corrupt generals, and trading Stinger missiles in Karachi, AK-47s in Chechnya, and hollow-point bullets in Islamabad. But burdened by her conscience, Eva Maria finally got out, married an optometrist, and had a baby. Now, assailed with memories of her secret life, she must reconcile her suburban present with a repressed but ineradicable past, one that blasts a hole so deep she doesn’t know how to love her own daughter. Writing with a knowing intelligence only an insider could provide, this pseudonymous author has created a debut with remarkable intensity that examines the razor-thin line separating those who are drowned from those who are saved.

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Editorial Reviews

Lisa Shea - Elle Magazine
“In secretive (and pseudonymous) Dutch weapons dealer Eva Maria Staal’s riveting, hair-trigger roman a clef, Try the Morgue, far-flung and dangerous locales—Chechnya, Karachi, Islamabad, Hong Kong, Beijing, Mozambique—pile up as fast as the body count…[A] cleverly constructed literary thriller.”
Elle Magazine
In secretive (and pseudonymous) Dutch weapons dealer Eva Maria Staal’s riveting, hair-trigger roman à clef, Try the Morgue, far-flung and dangerous locales—Chechnya, Karachi, Islamabad, Hong Kong, Beijing, Mozambique—pile up as fast as the body count…[A] cleverly constructed literary thriller.— Lisa Shea
Daily Beast
Fast-paced and emotionally perceptive, Try the Morgue takes an unforgettable, unflinching look at the brutal business of brokering freedom.— Mythili Rao
New York Times
Fascinating… the rare thriller with complex emotions.— Susannah Meadows
Shelf Awareness
Staal, a former arms dealer, fictionalizes the dilemma of a young woman caught between the thrill of international gunrunning and the security of family and home… Try the Morgue deftly marries an edgy thriller to a sensitive literary story.— Bruce Jacobs
Mythili Rao - Daily Beast
“Fast-paced and emotionally perceptive, Try the Morgue takes an unforgettable, unflinching look at the brutal business of brokering freedom.”
Susannah Meadows - New York Times
“Fascinating… the rare thriller with complex emotions.”
Bruce Jacobs - Shelf Awareness
“Staal, a former arms dealer, fictionalizes the dilemma of a young woman caught between the thrill of international gunrunning and the security of family and home… Try the Morgue deftly marries an edgy thriller to a sensitive literary story.”
Christopher Reich
“A wry, clever, suspenseful tale told with style and panache that had me turning pages as quickly as my fingers permitted. An exceptional work and a guaranteed good read.”
Zoë Ferraris
“Try the Morgue is a thrilling rocket ride through the world of international arms deals, but its real ruthlessness lies in Staal’s honesty about the human spirit and her unforgiving look at what it means to have a conscience. I was blown away by this remarkable book.”
Jenny Siler
“A stunning debut. Try the Morgue is not only a fascinating glimpse into the world of international arms dealing, but a terrific read as well. Staal clearly knows her stuff, both on and off the page. Her settings are perfectly drawn, her characters tough yet vulnerable—and always infinitely believable.”
Library Journal
This debut novel from former gunrunner Staal (a pseudonym) seems to pull heavily from her real-life experiences. Protagonist Eva works for Jimmy, a major player in the international arms market. Despite the large sums of money involved in moving Stinger missiles and tank parts, the lifestyle isn't glamorous. To make sales, Eva has to travel to every war-torn hotspot on the planet, like bombed-out Grozny and corruption-rife Pakistan. Meanwhile, Jimmy is losing his prestige because of an expensive boyfriend and sloppy deals. As she fights to keep Jimmy's company afloat, Eva begins to feel a yearning for civilian life away from the violence. VERDICT While the plot moves quickly and has plenty of action and intrigue, the parts dealing with Eva's internal grappling feel stiff and tedious compared with the detail-rich gunrunning sections. The author's personal history adds an extra element of legitimacy to the novel, leaving the reader wondering which details are real and which are fake. Recommended for fans of international crime fiction.—Pete Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Staal debuts with an autobiographical novel, the author Staal following a fictional Eva Maria Staal, a young woman "lured away" from her job with a company manufacturing night-vision goggles by Jimmy Liu, a Canadian-Chinese arms dealer. Operating from Holland, Staal becomes Jimmy's assistant. Soon, she's indispensable, accompanying him to Pakistan, China and Chechnya, each a snake pit of deception, corruption and malignant violence, where deals are brokered and broken among Jimmy, rebels and terrorists, criminal mobs and governments. Money rolls in until Jimmy meets Victor, a boy toy who demands luxury sports cars and London apartments. Circumstances grow more complicated when Staal and Jimmy are ambushed in Pakistan while negotiating a deal. Seriously wounded, Jimmy disappears for a time, and when rescued by Staal, he's far less ambitious and driven. The novel weaves a second narrative into the gunrunning adventures, that of Staal's romance with Martin, an architect, a character less explored than Jimmy. Initially, Martin leaves Staal when he learns the nature of her new work, but the romance is later rekindled. The denouement reeks with bitter irony. A morality tale of the first order: lean and intense; dead honest and unforgiving.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871403346
  • Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 10/15/2012
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Eva Maria Staal is the pseudonym of a best-selling Dutch writer who was involved in the international arms trade. She is a regular contributor to Dutch Monthly magazine, among other publications.

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