Book Review | City of Spies

‘God was everywhere, but so was the general.’

It is the summer of 1977 and Pakistan swelters in the unrelenting heat. Weeks after her eleventh birthday, Aliya Shah wakes up to the news that there has been a coup d’état, General Zia has taken over the country and Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is in jail. Although the shadow of the general and his increasingly puritanical edicts threaten to disrupt their comfortable existence, life goes on for Aliya much as before as she attends the American School in Islamabad. However, when a much loved young boy, the son of the family retainer, dies tragically in a hit-and-run accident, her world is turned upside down, especially when she discovers the terrible secret of the murderer’s identity.

City of Spies is coming-of-age story that explores Aliya’s conflicting loyalties and her on-going struggle to make sense of her world. Set in late 1970’s Islamabad and Lahore, City of Spies is a gripping novel that unfolds over thirty months in Pakistan’s tumultuous history. Continue reading

Book Review | The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue

For more than forty years, Frederick Forsyth has been writing extraordinary real-world novels of intrigue, from the groundbreaking The Day of the Jackal to the prescient The Kill List. Whether writing about the murky world of arms dealers, the shadowy Nazi underground movement, or the intricacies of worldwide drug cartels, every plot has been chillingly plausible because every detail has been minutely researched.

But what most people don’t know is that some of his greatest stories of intrigue have been in his own life.

He was the RAF’s youngest pilot at the age of nineteen, barely escaped the wrath of an arms dealer in Hamburg, got strafed by a MiG during the Nigerian civil war, landed during a bloody coup in Guinea-Bissau (and was accused of helping fund a 1973 coup in Equatorial Guinea). The Stasi arrested him, the Israelis feted him, the IRA threatened him, and a certain attractive Czech secret police agent—well, her actions were a bit more intimate. And that’s just for starters.
It is a memoir like no other—and a book of pure delight. Continue reading