Book Review: The American

Happy Wednesday lovelies. It occurred to me over the weekend that on my reviews so far, I haven’t actually given any of them a star rating, which is a little remiss of me. So I’m going to change that and this will be the first review with a star rating – though you’ll have to read through to find it!

I picked this book up at Lifeline Bookfest at the end of January, and it was the first one of them that I picked up to read. Here’s the official blurb:

As autumn sets in, the queues outside the soup kitchens of Rome are lengthening, and the people are taking to the piazzas, increasingly frustrated by the deepening economic crisis.

When Detective Leone Scamarcio is called to an apparent suicide on the Ponte Sant’Angelo, a stone’s throw from Vatican City, the dead man’s expensive suit suggests yet another businessman fallen on hard times. But Scamarcio is immediately troubled by similarities with the 1982 murder of Roberto Calvi, dubbed ‘God’s Banker’ because of his work for the Vatican Bank.

When, days later, a cardinal with links to the bank is killed, and the CIA send a couple of heavies to warn him off the case, Scamarcio knows he’s onto something big.

As disturbing connections between 9/11, America’s dirty wars, Vatican corruption, the Mafia,  and Italy’s violence against its own people begin to emerge, Scamarcio is forced to deal with responsibilities far above his pay grade — in this tightly plotted mystery full of political intrigue. 

I originally picked this book up because 1) I adore Rome (and Italy in general) and 2) because I like a good spy thriller (which is probably at least half the reason why I like Jeffrey Archer so much) but I have to say, I was a little disappointed with this one.

It got off to a good start and made me feel like I was back walking the cobbled piazzas of Rome, however, once that was established, it all got a little too conspiracy theory for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good conspiracy theory (hello, huge Dan Brown fan right here!) but this was too much and actually seemed like it didn’t really belong in the book. To cut a long story short (spoiler coming up so look away now) – the author’s theory was that the CIA allowed Al Qaeda to plan and carry out 9/11 so the American people would be outraged and they would have a good excuse for invading Afghanistan etc to keep Russia and China away from the natural gas and mineral reserves. Now, I don’t know if it’s because I’m a military kid, and therefore everything 9/11 related hits really close to home; or whether it’s the current political climate but after reading that (almost towards the end of the book), I actually couldn’t sleep and also couldn’t finish the remaining 50 or so pages. I wonder if the theory had been introduced towards the start of the book (à la Dan Brown) and the book had revolved more around it, whether I would have been more able to continue reading. I guess we’ll never know.

So my over-arching recommendation? If it’s a well-researched conspiracy thriller you’re after, pick up a Dan Brown novel instead.

Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)


Annéka xo