An Arresting Read
‘My adult books seem to be classed as thrillers, but I don’t really see them as such,” says The Prisoner’s Wife author Gerard Macdonald. “I don’t find most thrillers very interesting. The characters are commonly pawns, there only to move the plot. I wish there was another category for commercial fiction with strong narrative drive and complex characters…books like James Meek’s We Are Now Beginning Our Descent.”
“I was interested in the policy extraordinary rendition, in the way American agents, usually but not always CIA, picked up men and women, confining them in black prisons in a dozen countries, keeping them off the American mainland,” says Macdonald. “At the time, three or four years ago, not too much was known or published on rendition…or what happened to the prisoners. Most were tortured, a few died, and almost all were confined for years, even when the American authorities realized they had an innocent man.”
“Macdonald visited or revisited the countries in which the novel is set: France, Morocco, Egypt and Pakistan. He visited a secret prison in Cairo when he’d been warned away. Going back after the Arab Spring he found that, for a short time, anyone could wander in. “I’d booked for a final research visit to Peshawar,” says MacDonald. “My hotel was blown up the day I was due to arrive. I canceled.”
Fans of John LeCarre’s densely-plotted spy yarns will find much to enjoy here. The Prisoner’s Wife is a story of conspiracy and suspense with vivid description and strong dialogue. As a flawed protagonist, McGuire is both complex and frustrating. And there’s plenty of political details for those that enjoy them.
British Weekly, Los Angeles
Gerard Macdonald’s The Prisoner’s Wife takes a pulse-pounding look at the political intrigue in the Middle-East.
St. Martin’s Press, 8 May 2012 – Fiction – 306 pages
The Prisoner’s Wife is a political thriller ripped from today’s headlines –a tense trip through the murky worlds of state– sponsored terrorism, nuclear politics, secret American jails and lawless rendition. Shawn Maguire, unemployed American spy, has been paid to find a young Iranian now being interrogated in one of the CIA’s black prisons. The prisoner may be in Fes, in Cairo or in Peshawar, but Shawn has every confidence that he’ll find his man. Based on his time as an agent, it’s an assignment he knows he can handle. But he’s not so sure he can handle… the prisoner’s wife.
Bookish May 2012
For those who wondered where spy novels could go in the aftermath of the Cold War, John le Carré isn’t the only one providing the answers. They also can be found here and, one hopes, in a batch of sequels. Though this is Gerard Macdonald’s first adult novel, it boasts the assurance and authority of a veteran spymaster, making us feel like we’ve been reading this author for years.
Kirkus Reviews June 2012