24 July 2010

Book Review: Purple Dots by Jim Lehrer

I got back to my reading habit. And after a brief stint with Central Asian literature, I went back to contemporary lit. For this time, I picked up this book, Purple Dots by Jim Lehrer.

This is supposed to be a spy novel, but somehow, it feels different than your traditional John le Carre or Robert Ludlum novel. It is a page-turner, but it is of different quality. But first, the synopsis.

So the story is told from two points of view: first from the point of view of Charles Henderson, who is a 60-something retired CIA operative. His dear friend, Josh Bennett, is soon to be appointed the chief head of the CIA, and is about to undergo a Senate Hearing. However, before that, a group of men that involves a New Mexico senator and his aides are desperately trying to derail the appointment, and so they are trying to dig any possible dirt that they can dig about Josh Bennett. Thus, Charles and his old friends try hard to prevent that, as they want Josh to be the head of the CIA.

In the second point of view, the story is told from the point of view of Martin Madigan, who is the aide of the New Mexico senator Lank Simmons. He goes on investigating Josh Bennett, and goes on to talk to various links of Josh, both from the past and the present. Thus, events are told twice: from the POV of Charles and Martin, and it provides and interesting take on what is going on inside the characters' heads, such as the Jaguar bombing incident, or the closed-doors subpoena interrogation.

In the novel's third part, the story continues and is told from both characters' points of view. And I love how the author did the finale, which obviously I am not putting in details here.

Anyway, yes, this is a spy novel, and there are several twists and turns along the way, but somehow it also is a caricature of the espionage novel genre: where else would you see several 60-year old men trying to bomb cars, and using truth serums as weapons? Although I have to say, it provided a very interesting and entertaining read.

So all in all, what is this value? If one wants a good entertaining read, then sure, this book would be great. But I am skeptical in calling this one literature. As aside from giving me a plot and a great espionage story, I don't think there is more to this than what is portrayed in the surface. I am pretty sure this wouldn't be one of those books that I can say to have changed my outlook in life, or those books that are masterpieces of literature that is worth requiring future generations to read.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

(Rocky Golden Path, from my Salineras de Maras Series)

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