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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

The Amateur Spy - Dan Fesperman Rating: 3* of five The Book Description: The Amateur Spy recasts the spy novel for the post-9/11 world—anyone might be watching, everyone is suspect. Freeman Lockhart, a humanitarian aid worker, and his Bosnian wife, have just retired to a charming house on a Greek island. On their first night, violent intruders blackmail Freeman into spying on an old Palestinian friend living in Jordan. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., a Palestinian-American named Aliyah Rahim is worried about her husband, who blames their daughter's death on the U.S. anti-terror policies. Aliyah learns that he is plotting a cataclysmic act of revenge; in a desperate effort to stop him, she flies to Jordan to meet her husband's co-conspirators. There she encounters Freeman neck-deep in his own investigation. As their paths intertwine, the story rises to its fast-paced, explosive climax. My Review: My bestie Suzanne inspired me to read this book, and I liked it. I did. I liked it.Excellent pacing! Exciting plotting! Adequate dialogue! But, after a few nights away from it pondering why I am so unmoved by it, I realized something. I am unpleasantly aware of a resonance with the later real-life doings of Zeitoun, he of the non-fiction Eggers book about injustice, racial profiling, and Katrina's aftermath.I wasn't unmoved after all. I was unhappy.The Palestinian dad who loses his daughter to perceived bureaucratic idiocy also loses his loyalty to the American Dream and to the Ideal World he came here to find. Well, yeah. Push a man hard enough, he falls over. Losing your illusions is a painful process, and for an adult to go through it...! I've heard a lot of unpleasantness about Zeitoun's apparent descent into extremism. It all carries, as does Fesperman's doctor's descent, an unspoken whiff of “look, he's finally tipped into Islamic Fundamentalism just like They Always Do!”I don't think They Always Do anything. I don't like the insidious, unexamined response of “well, what did you expect?” to these men's extreme responses to extreme abuses and losses. I promise you that a father who loses a child is a deranged, angry, haunted man. He will never, ever be the same as he was again. And if there is a handy, culpable party around, well guess what? Blame will be laid. I think I would feel the same way if my country, the place I CHOSE to live and work and become part of, slammed me into prison for being me.It's certainly always true that thrillers and mysteries require an Other, an Enemy, or they're pointless. I know that espionage is about Otherness taken to the extreme. I'm aware that the entire experience of a chase is about stakes, what's at risk, why the chase is occurring, or there's no point.That said, I can take not one thing away from Mr. Fesperman in his making of the book, and in his choice of a story. That I don't want to read this story isn't a thing in the world to do with him, and that I DID read the story is a testament to his talent as a thriller-maker.