- 23 Feb 19
Explosive Action Set In The Closed Society
Dr. Jenna Williams joins the C.I.A. in order to track down her sister who has been kidnapped by the North Korean government. There's an opening that should be enough to make you want to read this cracking thriller on its own, but you can add to that enticement some genuine insight into the regime under Kim Jong-il (the book is set before his death in 2011), brought to chilling life by well-drawn characters suffering above the 38th parallel. The level of insight is hardly surprising given the fact D.B John previously co-authored a book with a Korean escapee. It turns out Williams' sister has been taken for nefarious purposes as part of a state-sponsored abduction plan. Jenna takes the opportunity offered by an old friend of her father to sign up and attempt a rescue that gets more hair-raising as it goes along.
Over in the northern part of "The Land Of The Morning Calm", Mrs Moon is a peasant desperately trying to survive and, against the odds, attempts a form of capitalism after a gift from the west literally lands in her lap. Lieutenant Cho is a government insider facing trouble from the past, and it's not even his past but some imagined, or otherwise, sin of an ancestor, resulting in a paranoiac near-breakdown as he attempts to second guess the monster raving loony party that runs the country. Will it end well for anyone? It seems unlikely in this land where no one, no matter what precarious footing they might have in society, is safe. By the time you reach the gripping finale - and discover aghast in the author’s notes that incidents in the book are based on fact - any doubts you might be harbouring that North Korea is perhaps the most goodnight-bananas-out-the-window-cuckoo place on earth have been very firmly quashed.