Boathouse Row Philadelphia, PA

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A Geography of Secrets

By Frederick Reuss

A Geography of Secrets

You can view this book's Amazon detail page here.


Started reading:
13th November 2010
Finished reading:
19th November 2010


Rating: Unrated

Frederick Reuss’ newest book is quite a stretch for this reader. My normal book selections (as you can see in my other reviews) tend toward the scientific nonfiction. When I do take a break, my fiction selections are usually action thrillers from Brad Thor, David Baldacci or Dan Brown. My favorite fiction characters may not be completely two dimensional but their motivations are pretty red, white & blue.
A Geography of Secrets doesn’t fit anywhere near these categories. However, his book is interesting and worthwhile reading.
The structure of the book is a bit unusual in that there a two storylines that alternate chapters. On surface this construction might seem confusing but one is in the first person and the other in the third person by an unseen narrator. Thus, the reader easy can follow each. Aiding the flow is Reuss’ effortless writing style.
The publisher hype for this book puts a lot of emphasis of the geography and mapping aspects. Don’t let this put you off. Geography and mapping are a thread but they are not dominant. Reuss weaves these elements in a very easy going and non-technical manner.
The first person storyline describes a son’s search for the truth of his recently deceased father’s career and activities as a Vietnam-era Foreign Service officer. The story is pieced together across multiple countries and through conversations with his widowed divorced mother. Climatic information is provided by his father’s Vietnam-era compatriot.
In the second storyline we learn of Noel, an intelligence analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency. Noel is tortured by the knowledge that he is responsible for the erroneous bombing of a school in Pakistan and the resultant death of many school children. We follow Noel as he comes to terms with his actions without being able to confined in anyone because of these secrets.
While I can candidly say I did not completely identify with either of the characters there were frequent episodes that were uncannily familiar. I guess this is the measure of Reuss as an author, i.e. connecting with the reader.
I highly recommend A Geography of Secrets as something different to read.