Book Review Body of Lies by David Ignatius

Book Review: Body of Lies by David Ignatius

Roger Ferris is a CIA soldier stationed in the Middle East during the Iraq War. His unique background and special relationship with Jordan’s Director of Intelligence make him the perfect candidate for a crucial mission. Along the way he meets a girl.

Can Ferris penetrate Al Qaeda’s hidden network to save the world and his new love? With the corpse of an American citizen, an idea, and a bit of luck, he just might.

I’ve read two other David Ignatius books. His latest, The Quantum Spy, is marvelous. 5 stars. The one he wrote before that, The Director, is also quite good, but a little rough around the edges by comparison.

Body of Lies has a much better plot than either.

The main character Ferris uses a dead American stranger and a fake mission as bait for luring Al Qaeda’s puppet master (called Suleiman) into a trap. That’s a great base! There’s also love and violence and sex and deceit – it’s got all the pieces for a great spy novel.

But the execution – in my experience not having published a dozen books or written for The Washington Post for 30+ years – is a little weak.

Some of the scenes move quickly. Normally that’s good. The problem is they aren’t always clear, even after reading them two or three times.

It’s good to have subtle references that cause the reader to take an active role in understanding all that’s going on. That’s engaging. But at times Body of Lies is just confusing. No one wants that.

A couple of sex scenes are described, too. They aren’t tedious, but they’re detailed enough to make people like me uncomfortable. They were clearly written by a man from a man’s perspective.

For those reasons, I give Body of Lies 3 stars.

It is a quick read. I think it took me a few evenings plus a Sunday afternoon to finish. There are also a lot of twists and surprises (albeit some that are obvious, which makes them lousy surprises).

The story primarily takes place in the Middle East, but I still felt I could understand the characters and differences in culture. That’s not easy to do!

I wouldn’t say every page made me want to read the next – which is how I often judge books – but one page flows easily into the next, and I certainly didn’t mind turning the page.

In my opinion, Body of Lies will not knock your socks off, but it will entertain you.

Curious if you’ll agree with my review of Body of Lies by David Ignatius? Click here to get your own copy.

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