Yet another featured author who kindly allowed me to review his book, follow Mr K. Talib’s trendsetting and Contact Ste! if you wish to get correspond me.
At an ancient café in Cairo, two veteran spies plot a covert mission to resolve — once and for all — the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. The pledge: Israel will make a major concession as part of the peace treaty. In Singapore, Jethro Westrope, a magazine journalist, stumbles onto the scene of a murder: the beautiful Niki Kishwani directs him, in her last breath, to a digital recorder, evidence that puts Jethro’s life in serious danger. And, much worse, he is framed for Niki’s murder. Jethro sets out to find Niki’s killer and is drawn into a web of deception and intrigue involving officials from the Singaporean, Israeli, and American governments, each with a complex, competing, and potentially deadly agenda. Against this pulse-pounding backdrop, Jethro races to find answers and save himself —yet nothing is as it seems. He finds himself at the centre of a political plot so diabolical and sweeping in its world implications that he is stunned to discover tomorrow’s news headlines today. He is being set up not only as a murderer but as an assassin, and something much larger than his own fate is in his hands.
Whenever I read a thriller there is always a temptation – which I try to avoid – to mention such well-worn classic clichés such as ‘fast paced’ and ‘page turning’ and ‘labyrinthine’. In this case though that is difficult as that is precisely what this book is, however it would be disingenuous of me to dismiss them in this case.
Smokescreen is an apt title for a novel dealing with political chicanery and this is evident from the first pages, I found myself getting ready to relish a story that felt international, realistic and above all intense. I was not disappointed. With a high body count and some nice detailing, I was in my element, in fact I defy anyone to reach that state of mind when there is a character called Hong Kong Chong in the mix.
As well as being of a topical nature, there is room for a brief history lesson and this comes in the form of Singapore/Israeli connections stretching back to the sixties which was something I was not familiar with beforehand. A little research always adds depth to a story though and it certainly brings extra layers to the already convoluted (but by no means confusing) machinations of the plot line.
As you would expect from a book of this nature, the duplicitous entanglements are abundant with double crosses enmeshed betwixt scenes of dramatic action, that smoothly define the international corruption and power play. Espionage is as old as houses but with a Singapore location and its bureaucratic if less well-known relations with Israel then there is a feeling of a story less read here.
Overall it’s a light book – one that you will read in a one or two solid sittings – albeit one that also feels like it has substance as well. The mixture of mistrust in governments and the cinematic qualities of the narrative will keep you hooked. The feeling that the protagonists are being watched at every turn is palpable, are they in charge of their own actions or are they, in a much more subtle way being maneuvered by forces who eye a bigger picture?
One theme of the book which will resonate with everybody is this day and age is the feeding into paranoia (or not) of global shenanigans. The constant watching of the populace, privacy issues and the scary thought of having no control and being set up or controlled by people working ‘for the good of the people’. The film Enemy of the State comes to mind as a good comparison in this case. It does beg the question though, how much does political maneuvering influence people’s thoughts? Perhaps we should all examine facts rather than take the soundbite media as our own main source of reliable news.