Blood Money, by Azam Gill, a Pakistani transplanted in France is one of those novels that impart an authentic flavor to the spy thriller genre. Mr. Gill was an officer in the Pakistani army, where he was both a company commander and an intelligence officer. As a member of the French Foreign Legion, "I lived and worked with people whose backgrounds included clandestine work, criminal activity, and intellectual pursuits, what Len Deighton describes as ‘a fiction writer’s dream.’" He went on to get a PhD from and teach at Grenoble University. His varied experiences inform his fiction deeply.
Gill’s story about a young Englishman who musters out of the Foreign Legion and finds himself entangled in the machinations of an international Western intelligence organization centered in France, for which he eventually agrees to undertake a dangerous mission against an ambitious jihadist overlord, is fiction. But it has the ring of authenticity. There is a beautiful and highly intelligent young lady spy, of course, and a dollop or two of steamy sex. The descriptions of carrying out his operation sound as if they were written by someone who has planned and carried out risky missions himself.
The story moves along at a rapid pace that will intrigue most readers while offering what seem to be authentic and plausible details about how intelligence organizations and espionage organizations work. The recent history coincides nicely with real history and creates a strong sense of the challenges posed by Islamist jihadism to the West. This is the kind of fiction that evokes a stronger sense of how the world really works than any number of the kind of history and foreign policy analysis books that are more often on my nightstand. Fun and informative.
Reviewed by Alan Bock
Blood Money excerpt
Azam Gill biography