Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Review of The Informant by Andrew Rosenheim (Arrow, 2013)
The Informant is a historical political thriller set immediately prior to America entering the Second World War. It’s the second book in the James Nessheim series, but can be read as a standalone. The strength of the story is the plot and contextualisation. The tale is told through a set of alternating perspectives of James Nessheim in Los Angeles, and is his boss, Harry Guttman in Washington and New York, and centres on finding a missing Japanese-American informant, uncovering the work of Soviet agents, and establishing if there is a link between the two and its significance. Whilst, the timeline is linear, the plot weaves together a number of strands and subplots to create a complex, if somewhat fanciful, stew. Nevertheless, Rosenheim makes sure the reader stays orientated and that the story keeps moving forward. Moreover, he evokes the tense atmosphere, politics and political landscape of the time and nicely places the story in its locales, with a strong sense of place with respect to the film studio, Little Tokyo in LA, and the hills above Santa Barbara, and context with respect to the marginalised position of the Japanese in America and political sympathies with communism and the plight of the Soviet Union as German troops advance on Moscow. The result is a thoughtful, engaging and well told tale.