"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
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.