Thursday, February 26, 2015
Book Review: The Washington Stratagem by Adam LeBor
Publisher: Bourbon Street Books (HarperCollins Publishers) 2015
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Synopsis (from the HarperCollins.com):
In this action-packed, suspenseful sequel to the international thriller The Geneva Option, U.N. covert negotiator Yael Azoulay is drawn into a web of betrayal and intrigue that leads from deep within America’s military-industrial complex to the Middle East and beyond.
Yael Azoulay nearly lost her life while on assignment for the United Nations in the Congo. Though her physical wounds are healed, she still struggles with the psychological trauma. But her safety is jeopardized once again when her job sends her to meet with the CEO of The Prometheus Group, a lobbying and asset management firm with extensive links to the Pentagon and intelligence services.
The U.N. is suspicious about Prometheus’s military and intelligence contract operations and wants Yael to quietly investigate. Working under Prometheus’s radar, she discovers a chilling conspiracy with ties to Iran . . . and to a shocking source very close to her. And the end game is nothing less than a devastating—and very lucrative—new war in the Middle East.
But the closer she comes to the truth, the more Yael begins to expose herself, revealing a complex and intriguing heroine whose life is riddled with secrets. As she confronts the ghosts of her past, the few certainties of her life begin to crumble around her, laying bare a terrifying truth: that she has enormously powerful enemies who neither forgive . . . nor forget.
The Washington Stratagem, the second novel in Adam LeBor's Yael Azoulay series, is a fast-paced political thriller that is guaranteed to keep you turning the pages. The novel's protagonist, Yael Azoulay, is a special assistant to the Secretary General of the United Nations, called upon to carry out activities that never make the news. In this novel, Yael is tasked with investigating one of Washington's most powerful lobby groups, a group with direct ties to the highest echelons of power. Yael's investigation uncovers some explosive information, information that her enemies are willing to kill for in order to prevent it from coming to light. While trying to stay one step ahead of her enemies, Yael's past starts to catch up with her, placing her in even further danger. Will Yael be able to stop her enemies before they stop her?
I've always enjoyed thrillers, with political thrillers being my favourite. Nevertheless, I sometimes have a hard time finding books within the genre that contain plausible plots and characters. I admit to being easily put off by thrillers that require a willing suspension of disbelief in order to get through them. When I read Adam LeBor's first Yael Azoulay novel, The Geneva Option (click here for my review) I knew that I'd found a winner (it ended up being one of my favourite books of 2013). Not only did I find the novel's plot entirely plausible, it was also compelling. I also enjoyed the fact that LeBor chose a female as his principal character. Yael is intelligent, dedicated, and motivated to get the job done. She is also the type of person you'd want on your side in a fight.
I always feel some trepidation when starting a follow-up to a novel I particularly loved, wondering if it will be as good as the first. The Washington Stratagem doesn't disappoint. LeBor has once again delivered a well-written and engaging thriller, one that is every bit as good as its predecessor. As I mentioned in my review of The Geneva Option, I love the backrooms view of the United Nations provided by this series. While the series is a fictional one, it showcases the backstabbing and power tripping that can occur in large political organizations made up of people with competing interests and priorities. I also like how it illustrates the role of the press in bringing to light stories that others want buried. The characters in this series continue to be one of its greatest strengths, and I was pleased that so many of the characters featured in the first novel appear in The Washington Stratagem. While Yael continues to be the series' focus, I like that several other characters also receive significant attention, including reporter Sami Boustani and the UN Secretary General Fareed Hussein, as I find them every bit as intriguing as Yael.
Although part of a series, The Washington Stratagem includes enough background information on the events of The Geneva Option that it isn't necessary to read the first book prior to starting this one. Of course, given how much I enjoyed the first novel I highly recommend starting with it -- I can assure you that you'll want to pick up The Washington Stratagem shortly thereafter.
I can't wait to read book three!