Monday, January 25, 2016


Don't trust the FBI to do good police work


This thriller is interesting, though not so much as a thriller, AND rather as a way the author uses to express and air some ideas about this world.

He deals with Chile first and more or less reflectS some historical consensual ideas about Allende and Pinochet. It is a cliché that the landless and the poor were going to seize the land and the possessions of the rich. Yet it was true that Allende was a fundamentalist Marxist, or at least his party was referring to Stalin as one of their main figures; Marx, Lenin and Stalin. When you used such symbols in the early 1970s it could only generate fear and hostility. Then the author is true about the military coup organized by Pinochet though he is wrong about Allende being killed. We know today he committed suicide before being taken. But that is more or less consensual. His character Amado is one of the sons of a land-owning military family that supported Pinochet. That is intended to more or less give us some sympathy for the chap, though he is not a victim of his social origin. He is a privileged person in Chile and in the USA where he managed to become a citizen by buying himself an American wife for 1,500 dollars and he got a job in some American Agency thanks to his father’s connections in diplomacy in Washington DC.

The second opportunity comes with Tom O’Malley and his girlfriend Amy who just graduated from Georgetown University earlier in the day when Tom is taken hostage in Washington DC. The vision of these upper middle class white students who yet work part time at least to pay for their expenses are more than naïve about the world: they are described as purely blind and maybe it is better like that because otherwise they would get completely berserk: they do not have the human strength it takes to face the real world. These young people do not seem to have any altruistic ideals either. They only believe in their welfare and in their pleasure that can include an elephant walk or strutting naked on the top of an apartment complex provided it is done within the normal codes of a celebration after a rugby match though it could also be after a football game. But do not panic, the version of the elephant walk in this book is a civilized and prudish one. The Urban Dictionary would give you a completely different description not for sports events celebration but for hazing – which is illegal though widely practiced. Here is their description though slightly edited by me: “Often used for hazing where a group of guys form a straight line and grab the e**** c*** of the guy in back of them with one hand and put the thumb of the other hand in the s******** of the guy in front of them then they walk in a circle.” You must understand they are naked of course. Their only objective beyond their university years is to marry and start a family with several kids. And probably one dog and a cat and several cars. That’s the middle and upper middle class ambition in the USA.

The third opportunity is the originally Christian André, the son of a hotel developer in Beirut, turned Muslim Abdul when his three many star hotels are bombed down during one episode of civil war in Lebanon. He becomes the main agent of some kind of kinky propaganda operation in the USA where he takes twenty, twenty-one or twenty-two hostages in the Agency for World Peace in Washington DC. This is in no way in conformity with the methods used by Islamic terrorists. If they take hostages and do not kill them it’s because they have a particular demand, which is implied in the book but never specified, and because these demands are satisfied, which is impossible since the USA do not bargain with terrorists as it is clearly expressed in the book. So their killing only one after liberating two, Amado and Tom, who were supposed to carry demands that never came, sounds totally illogical. I am not good at suspending my disbelief too much, and here it is a lot. Terrorists just want to make as many casualties as possible at the lower human cost possible, generally only one terrorist agent, and when they do not reach a dozen or more casualties it’s the result of bad planning or hostile circumstances.

André-Abdul is the weak point in this novel. He is not believable. But we can make do with that.

The general frame of the plot is slightly loose though it is tightly kept within some clear cut limits. Loose since after the hostage operation the two freed hostages go on a radio and TV show tour without any police protection to be celebrities for two weeks because it cannot last more than two weeks. After two weeks the American public needs a change. That’s loose since they go to Washington, San Francisco, LA, Houston and Miami and probably a few more stops but can’t make much more in two weeks, which is tight.

But the whole thing is based on the very silly character of Amado. He is hired by André-Abdul for a double hostage taking operation, the second episode being right at the end of the celebrity tour, and this Amado thinks (since Tom was not included in the original plan: he comes into the picture as a pizza delivery boy in the wrong place at the wrong time) the second operation was just to be as fake as the first one and that he was going to go through with one millions US dollars. You sure must be a dullard if you believe that. But he believes it and though he is told that at the end the pizza boy will have to killed he never believes he will be killed too. What’s more he falls in “love” with Tom and Tom falls not in love but for Amado anyway who is only a boy-version of Amy his girlfriend except that Amado is only one of the boys Tom like many male American around 20 is used to go out with crawling from one bar to the next for beer and alcohol, at least in the states where they do not have to be 21 to be served. I could call that a bar pilgrimage whose only objective is to get drunk slowly and to end up doing some dumb things like smoking marihuana, taking cocaine, injecting heroin, and of course biting in the flesh of girls who may slap you for it but you will do it again on the slapper or on the one next to the slapper.

But do not ask me why these two rescued or freed hostages did not have an FBI agent going along with them in their tour. It sounds like very bad precautionary police work. I find the FBI rather under all expectations here. It is true we are used to Dexter, CSI of all shades, NCIS of several coasts and many others. So we seem to know better, and we probably do. And do not forget in this case the Department of Homeland Security and the CIA. Maybe Pizza Boy was an accident, but Amado, from Chile mind you, was one of the original hostages and the end of the first hostage episode should have brought up a strong suspicion that there was some kind of bizarre planning especially since André-Abdul had disappeared from the scene when the SWAT stormed the building. And the fact that he could be a “mole” had to be taken seriously by security services.

But it is funny ah ah and rather dense enough to be enjoyable. It maybe turns a little bit long at some stops along the tour. But it is purely coincidental if American, Amy and Amado start with the same two letters.


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