Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Review: The Geneva Option by Adam Lebor


Yael Azoulay does the United Nations’ dirty work by cutting deals that most of us never hear about. Equally at home in the caves of Afghanistan, the slums of Gaza, or corporate boardrooms all across the world, Yael believes the ends justify the means…until she’s pushed way beyond her breaking point.

When Yael is assigned to eastern Congo to negotiate with Jean-Pierre Hakizimani, a Hutu warlord wanted for genocide, she offers him a generous plea bargain. Thanks to Congo’s abundance of a valuable mineral used in computer and cell phone production, her number one priority is maintaining regional stability. But when she discovers that Hakizimani is linked to the death of the person she loved the most—and that the UN is prepared to sanction mass murder—Yael soon realizes that salvation means not just saving others’ lives but confronting her own inner demons.

Spanning New York City, Africa, and Switzerland, The Geneva Option is the first in a series of gripping conspiracy thrillers, a tour de force of international espionage and intrigue.

HarperCollins Paperbacks | May 28, 2013 | 368 pages

My Review

5 Stars

Journalist Adam Lebor's remarkable debut novel, The Geneva Option, is a fast-paced, intelligent thriller that takes readers deep into a conspiracy by a business conglomerate to take control of profitable African resources, a conspiracy that involves some of those in the top echelons of power within the United Nations.

Yael Azoulay is one of the UN Secretary General's most trusted aides.  Charged with arranging deals with some of the world's most notorious political and military figures, Yael undertakes dangerous missions that are known to only a select few.  But when the results of Yael's most recent mission, negotiating a plea bargain with one of the chief architects of the Rwandan genocide, are leaked to the press, Yael is forced from her job and her life is placed in grave danger.  She immediately sets out to uncover the source of the leak, and in the process learns of a top secret conspiracy involving Africa that has the support of some of the UN's most powerful people.  Yael is in a race against time to both unravel the full extent of the conspiracy and to put a stop to it before it claims countless lives. 

The Geneva Option has all the of elements I think a good political thriller should have.  It has: a fast-moving and highly entertaining narrative that makes the novel difficult to put down; it centres around a plausible conspiracy involving shady businessmen and powerful political figures; it has a highly intelligent, capable and determined heroine who is easy to root for; the secondary characters  are unique and memorable; and it is extremely well-written.  Yael's strong and well-developed character is one of the this novel's greatest strengths, and this strength is complemented by a diverse group of equaling intriguing supporting characters, who include a NY Times reporter, a Rwandan warlord, the Secretary General of the UN, Yael's personal bodyguard, a Serbian small business owner, and a young Rwandan boy.   One of the components of this novel that I most enjoyed was the insights it gave into the backroom dealings of the UN, the power struggles within the organization, and the constant jockeying for prestige and influence amongst its various personnel and departments.    Although this novel is fictional, it is not difficult to imagine that such backrooms dealings and power struggles are a reality within the world's most well-known organization. 

I highly recommend The Geneva Option to all readers who enjoys thrillers, as well as to those who like to read novels with strong female leads.  I cannot wait to read more from Adam Lebor and to see where he takes Yael next.

Note: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Geneva Option is currently on tour.  You can check out the tour schedules and links to other reader reviews by clicking here.   

About the Author

Adam LeBor lives in Budapest and writes for the Economist, New York Times, Times (London), Monocle, and numerous other publications. He is the author of a number of nonfiction books, including the groundbreaking investigative work Hitler’s Secret Bankers (short-listed for the Orwell Prize), which revealed the extent of Swiss complicity with the Third Reich; City of Oranges (short-listed for the Jewish Quarterly Prize); and Complicity with Evil.

Find out more about Adam at his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

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