Summary and book reviews of The Prisoner of Guantanamo by Dan Fesperman

The Prisoner of Guantanamo

by Dan Fesperman

The Prisoner of Guantanamo
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2006, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2007, 336 pages

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Book Summary

Revere Falk is an interrogator at “Gitmo,” assigned a Yemeni prisoner who may have valuable information about al-Qaeda. But suddenly he is put in charge of an investigation into the death of American soldier washed ashore in Cuba. And there is an unusual level of interest in the proceedings, from his commander, the Cubans, and the various factions of the military....

Dan Fesperman’s award-winning novels have transported readers to the heart of some of the world’s most volatile places: Yugoslavia during the Balkan Wars in Lie in the Dark and The Small Boat of Great Sorrows (“A new standard for war-based thrillers”—Los Angeles Times), and Afghanistan during the last days of the Taliban in The Warlord’s Son (“A first-rate geopolitical yarn”—Entertainment Weekly). Now he turns his sights closer to home—to the secretive, overheated world of Guantánamo—to give us a galvanizing new thriller.

Revere Falk—FBI veteran, Arabic speaker—is an interrogator at “Gitmo,” assigned to a “hold-out,” a Yemeni prisoner who may have valuable information about al-Qaeda. But these duties are temporarily suspended when the body of an American soldier is found washed ashore in Cuban territory. No American has ever turned up dead on the wrong side of the fence before. Suddenly, Cold War tension is back, and Falk finds himself at the heart of it when he’s put in charge of the investigation into the death. Almost immediately he senses an unusual level of interest in the proceedings: from his commander, from the Cubans, and from the various factions of the military. And when the Defense Intelligence Agency unexpectedly sends its own team to “reinforce” the investigation, Falk understands that there is much more at play than anybody is willing to admit. He is drawn into a game of evasion and pursuit, a game whose stakes spike dangerously when a figure from his past reappears—someone who knows secrets about him that he had hoped were buried forever.

An intricately layered, blistering tale of subterfuge and deception at the highest, most hidden levels of the government, and in the most intimate, and vulnerable, moments of individual lives, The Prisoner of Guantánamo is as timely and razor sharp in its depiction of life—and death—at Gitmo as it is unstoppably suspenseful.

CHAPTER ONE

On the first day of his transition from captor to captive, Revere Falk stood barefoot on a starlit lawn at 4 a.m., still naively confident of his place among those who asked the questions and hoarded the secrets.

Falk was an old hand at concealment, trained from birth. The skill came in handy when you were an FBI interrogator. Who better to pry loose the artifacts of other lives than someone who knew all the hiding places? Better still, he spoke Arabic.

Not that he was putting his talents to much use at Guantanamo. And at the moment he was furious, having just returned from a botched session that summed up everything he hated about this place: too few detainees of real value, too many agencies tussling over the scraps, and too much heat—in every sense of the word.

Even at this hour, beads of sweat crawled across his scalp. By the time the sun was up it would be another day for the black flag, which the Army hoisted whenever the ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

What comes across loud and viscerally clear is the all encompassing presence of the US military, controlling every aspect of the base, and the people's lives therein, irrespective of which side of the bars they happen to be.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (623 words).

Media Reviews

Washington Post's Book World

You should enjoy reading Falk's quick-witted escapades on the island as he eludes the Washington team and others who would derail his investigation, but, like me, you may find yourself asking why Fesperman could not have taken on some of the darker issues of that infamous place.

Publishers Weekly

Despite an occasionally confusing plot and a finale with little punch, Fesperman ... does a superb job of explaining the inner workings at Guantanamo, as well as the context for the public outcry about the base.

Kirkus Reviews

The sharply drawn scenery, fascinating setting and a couple of exceptionally interesting central characters compensate for a plot that threatens occasionally to drown in detail.

Booklist

Although the insider's view of the Gitmo prison base is engaging, the stock characters ... along with a confusing, lackluster plot do not contribute too much of an exciting read.

Library Journal

Fesperman deftly builds suspense....a topnotch topical thriller, this is enthusiastically recommended for all popular fiction collections.

Reader Reviews

Marshall Cohen

Great Premise
The premise of this book, which is slowly revealed, is eerie and topical in my view. It's a fast moving story, laying out the next great conspiracy theory waiting to come public. I think it's Fesperman's best to date.

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Beyond the Book

Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean (780 miles long, 140 miles at its widest point) with a population of about 11 million; and infant mortality, life expectancy and literacy rates on a par with the USA (6.45 deaths per 1,000 live births, 77 years life expectancy, 97% literacy). It suffered a severe economic recession in the 1990s following the withdrawal of subsidies from the former Soviet Union and has not yet recovered to its pre '90s strength.

About 1.5 million tourists visited Cuba in 2004, including about 100,000 Americans (despite the travel ...

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