Sunday, May 04, 2008

Review: The Prince of Bagram Prison by Alex Carr

Today in January Magazine’s crime fiction section, contributing editor David Thayer reviews The Prince of Bagram Prison by Alex Carr. Says Thayer:
Atmosphere is one of the hallmarks of the classic thriller, an aspect of suspense that is all too often sacrificed from the recipe for modern-day thrillers. Alex Carr -- a pseudonym used by Virginia novelist Jenny Siler (Flashback, Shot) -- wants to remind her readers that mystery can be found in the most ordinary places, where her characters suddenly find themselves prisoners of circumstance.

In the opening scene of The Prince of Bagram Prison, a Moroccan woman named Manar gives birth. The baby is removed and Manar is sent to a camp in the desert, having been judged guilty of joining an anti-government demonstration. Manar is a victim of the Years of Lead, a 1960s-1980s pogrom under Morocco’s King Hassan II that targeted democracy activists.

Now flash ahead to the present. A young Moroccan boy known as Jamal is working for American Intelligence in Madrid, Spain. Jamal is an orphan from Casablanca, who wants his handlers to believe he has information vital to American interests. In most ways, Jamal is an ordinary teenage boy, eager for a better life. However, he was formerly held at the U.S.-operated Bagram internment facility outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, and released only when he mentioned the name of a wanted terrorist. The boy puts himself in play until his American contact retires. A scandal is about to envelope Jamal in a deadly effort to cover up the torture of prisoners interred at Bagram.

The full review is here.

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