The way a story is told greatly affects a reader’s perception. The world we live in shapes our stories to fit within historical and societal contexts. But what if you could retell a story and change those perceptions and contexts?
This is a classic noir story with a dash of pulp and a whole lot of mind bendiness. Private detective Joe is hired to track down author Mike Longshott who has written a series of novels entitles Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante. The books detail a series of attacks carried out in Africa, Europe and America by a shadowy figure known as Osama Bin Laden. To Joe these stories are complete works of fiction set in an unfamiliar world.
Longshott appears to be as elusive as his main character. Joe’s investigation takes him from the steamy streets of Asia to the murky streets of Paris and London as he follows up every possible lead. But Joe is being followed, by those who try to warn him off the case and by others who live in the shadows. But the shadows also seem to hold all the answers Joe is looking for. The closer Joe comes to finding Longshott the more he realizes that Longshott is the key to a puzzle fractured by a splintered world.
The whole novel is thickly atmospheric and skilfully nuanced. The alternate universe that Lavie Tidhar has created is subtlety revealed as are the pieces of the mystery. Joe’s world has taken a different path from World War Two onwards but Tidhar never goes into any detail. Titbits are offered up here and there and it is up to you to put them together.
Joe reads the Osama Bin Laden novels searching for clues. The recounting of Al Qaeda attacks such as the Kenyan embassy bombings, the London Underground bombings and the World Trade Centre Attack through a pulp novel give the events a different and unusual perspective and context. This allows the book to ask questions about the motivations and consequences of the attacks especially whether terrorism is a criminal act or an act of war.
Intriguing is an understatement for this book. It envelopes you like smoke, turns you around and you stumble out the other side slightly bewildered. A fascinating concept to a story that has dominated our world for over a decade and like the true events leaves a swirl of questions that might not ever be able to be answered.
Classification: Crime & mystery , Science fiction , Thriller / suspense
Format: Paperback / softback Pages: 276
Country of Publication: United Kingdom