Risk analyst John Harper is twiddling his thumbs in some compulsory 'time-out' in the hills of Bali; his Amsterdam-based intelligence organisation is not happy with his recent 'errors of judgement' around the current unrest. It's 1998 and as he reflects on his past, especially his earlier role in Indonesia's coup and counter coup of 1965, he glimpses the tantalising possibility of a different future with the arrival of Rita, a teacher with her own troubled past.
Moving between time periods, this is a story of personal and national turmoil, steeped in bribery and corruption and the legacies of colonialism and the Cold War, but compassionate in its portrayal of a man wrestling with the moral anguish of personal responsibility. [Larger font]
Strange one this, tension, tension and more tension. Not sure how to describe it, not really a thriller as such, suspense maybe Dunno. Enjoyable, maybe Glad we read it Maybe Not everyone finished it.
We thought this book well-written but too gruesome/detailed for some of us. Our knowledge of the history of that era in Asia was improved!
A compelling read - great tension and beautifully written. The description of tropical Indonesia was very evocative. At times we found parts a little confusing but re-reading a few passages soon clarified it. Harper was a complex character and his paranoia was somewhat disturbing. This was not surprising considering the guilt he carried. Keen to read more by Louise Doughty.
Most group members had difficulty with the vernacular language used by the author. However once this was understood they found the book very interesting, absorbing and thought provoking. We were also very fortunate to have the author join us for discussion as she lives locally.
Only a couple enjoyed this book. The rest found it a hard story to get into.
Very well-written, but sad. Very good description of paranoia.
Some readers found this to be a superb picture of a time and place they knew very little of. Others found the jumbled timeline rather confusing, but we all enjoyed the excellent writing.
A productive discussion of the situations Harper found himself in including ethics, values and issues of morality. A well constructed and suspenseful thriller that covered complex situations and issues
There was general agreement on the author's skill at portraying personality and descriptions of the surrounding environment.