Saturday, 1 April 2017

Shell Game: A Contemporary Thriller by K.H.Bixby

As I had a couple of days holiday and a 4 hour train journey, I had time to read. So here is the review of one thriller and I'm halfway through the next. This one was quite innocent in its tone, no sex or swearing. But it did have some scenes of torture which came as a bit of a shock considering how the rest of the story was handled. I gave it 4 stars.

A young boy loses his closest family and is taken to New York by his uncle. They are Jaharin, a fictional ethnic group without statehood. When oil is discovered on the land they inhabit; their powerful host is ethnic cleansing without the world noticing. We catch up with the young boy Sami many years later and he now works in finance.
This story has many elements which make this thriller seem eerily familiar; one group of people oppressed by a more powerful group, the world turning a blind eye to a small ethnic group. And the all-powerful oil and financial companies that put money before people. Sami is a sympathetic character; he has made a success out of his life despite difficult beginnings. Money and a cosy life has not made him immune to the plight of his people and I can understand his need to help the Jaharin, even though the way he does it isn’t legal. The romance between Sami and Sarah is developed slowly and with a somewhat innocent touch. (Rather refreshing to not have any sex scenes!) The pace of the book is slow and steady but keeps the reader engaged. The only criticism I have is that the scenes of torture come as a bit of a shock (I had to skip a few pages as I can't stomach animal cruelty even if it is fictional), it contrasts sharply against the innocent romance of Sami and Sarah and the warm relationship between Sami and his uncle. It does however illustrate that even though life might seem comfortable and cosy, brutal reality (like the Syrian conflict at the moment) is never far away.

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