Blood Money. David Ignatius.

Ignatius, David. Bloodmoney. Norton. New York 2011. F; 6/11.

I started reading this getting ready to leave for New York and Toronto, as a break from Book of Memories, about which more herein. As you would expect with a spy thriller, I whipped through it in four or five days, very quick for me. I picked up the title from the Economist book reviews, usually a good source, and I’m not sure why they decided to include this from among the dozens and dozens of spy thrillers that get published every month. Maybe something to do with the author’s qualifications and how topical the subject matter is.

Anyway, there is this secret-secret organization operating outside (but in the shadow of) the CIA with the knowledge of the president and White House Chief of Staff but almost nobody else, run by an egotistical super-spy, employing brilliant Clarice Starling-style hot Suzy Q who has somehow never found the right guy…

This outfit works under deepest cover identifying and bribing important people in Pakistan to turn opinion leaders away from anti-American ideas, funded by a British brokerage, which is run by Susie (I forget her real name)’s eventual multibillionaire heartthrob. Heartthrob’s huge success is guaranteed by a steady stream of insider information from the agency.

Some bad guy is killing its agents off one by one, and somewhat disappointingly we know exactly who it is from the start because we are told about him in the prologue. Lots of tradecraft insider stuff, a little bit of genuine-feeling Pakistani location and character, some fabulously rich London stockbroker action, and enough whodunit to keep me interested. But not, I would say, really over-the-top suspense, characters, sense of verisimilitude, complexity of plot… I’d be interested to know if somebody who reads lots and lots of this kind of thing would find it really good. Suspect not.

Nice brief relief from the impossibly hyper-literary thing I’m still trying to wade through, but about as much real impact as an episode of Law and Order. 6.9

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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