Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Lie by Hesh Kestin

This is an alright book. Not brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, but OK. Basic plot is a human rights lawyer is tapped to be an independent reviewer of what the CIA in recent years has taken to calling "Enhanced Interrogation", e.g. torture. The idea is that whenever the Israeli police want to turn the thumbscrews, they have to run it by Dahlia Barr, our heroine, first.

Of course as readers we can see what going to happen a mile away, can't we? She'll start off opposing torture and then something will happen to turn her world on it's head, a ticking time bomb-type scenario, no doubt one that affects her personally, and she will be forced to re-evaluate her outlook accordingly. That of course is exactly what happens and it's not too long before our heroine is enthusiastically turning those thumbscrews herself. 

This is a short novel and as such the characters appeared to me as little more than sketches. I never got a real sense of them as people. So I found it hard to reconcile with Dahlia so easily jettisoning the values she once held dear. This problem is exacerbated by the book's very real, albeit subtle, though often not so subtle, politics. I read one review that said the book avoids bias on the whole Middle Eastern conflict. Well that reviewer was clearly reading a different novel. The book is full of little barbs towards Arabs and how they live their lives. Israel is portrayed as a plucky little state, which might have made the odd misstep but on the whole is decent, while the Palestinians and the Israeli Arabs are a treacherous foe.

Sorry, but I have to give this novel two out of five stars. Read it if you want a short book that wears its politics on its shoulder (whole chapters at the end detailing and glorifying macho Israeli commandos as they rescue a hostage and kill a bunch of Arab terrorists). Avoid if you want something deeper.

No comments:

Post a Comment