The Prince of Bagram Prison

The Prince of Bagram Prison

Alex Carr

Social Sciences / Science

A riveting and intricate literary thriller from the author The New York Times Book Review says “speaks up in a voice that gets your attention like a rifle shot . . . clean, direct, and a little dangerous.” Army Intelligence reservist Kat Caldwell is teaching Arabic at a military college in Virginia when the order comes: Retired spy chief Dick Morrow needs to find a CIA informant who has slipped away from his handler in Spain and may be heading to Morocco. Jamal was a prisoner whom Kat interrogated when she worked at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan. Having gained his trust, she is now expected to discover his whereabouts on a treacherous trail that leads from Madrid’s red-light district to the slums of Casablanca. But when a British Special Forces soldier is murdered just as he is about to give testimony on the death of a Bagram detainee, Kat begins to suspect that the real story here is one of the cover-up of U.S.-sanctioned torture. And when in desperation Jamal contacts his former CIA handler, he unwittingly rekindles a bitter struggle between the one man who can save him and the one who wants him dead.From Publishers WeeklyAt the start of this intelligent spy thriller from the pseudonymous Carr (the author of Flashback and other novels under her real name, Jenny Siler), Kat Caldwell, a gutsy U.S. Army interrogator stationed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, takes charge of Jamal, a 15-year-old Moroccan boy caught in a jihadi sweep by a British Special Forces team. Having fled a degraded existence as an orphan in Morocco, the resourceful Jamal is no terrorist, Kat decides. After Jamal escapes custody, a team of American intelligence agents, working in both an official and unofficial capacity, go in search of him. Because of their earlier relationship, Kat is recruited to help locate the boy. When she realizes that something bad will happen if she finds him, she also goes on the run. Effortlessly shifting point of view and back and forth in time, Carr (An Accidental American) well deserves comparisons with the early John le Carré. (Mar.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From BooklistJamal, a Muslim teenager, is captured in Afghanistan and sent to Bagram Prison. He knows nothing of terrorism. He was taken at birth from his Moroccan mother, a political prisoner, and sent to a grimy orphanage in Casablanca. On leaving the orphanage, he survived by giving himself to a series of pederasts. But he must tell his interrogators something, and an innocuous lie sets off a chain reaction of murders in Britain and the Middle East. Jamal decides to disappear in Casablanca’s slums, and his former interrogator, Kat Caldwell, is reactivated to help find him. But Kat wonders who she is working for and what will happen to Jamal if she succeeds. The inevitable prepub comparisons of any promising new espionage writer to the work of John le Carré and Alan Furst aren’t too far from the mark this time. Carr has written a fine novel dense with complex and flawed characters, a vivid sense of place, and fascinating insights into the Muslim faith. By the final page, many readers will also find in the novel a metaphor for America’s ill-conceived global war on terror. --Thomas Gaughan
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