The secret group

The Increment by David Ignatius.   | Photo Credit: scanned in chennai

Readers of his bestselling novel Body of Lies would know that David Ignatius has a penchant for weaving exceptionally realistic plots using the text and texture of CIA life; and if placed on the job of corroborating this technique of his, The Increment is indeed, a smoking gun. The story opens in Teheran, when Karim Molavi, a young scientist with a troubled past, privy to Iran's closely-guarded and hugely-secretive nuclear programme, sends an ‘anonymous' email to the CIA website.

Harry Pappas, head of the Agency's Iran desk and a CIA veteran, knows that if the contact is genuine, he is at the helm of what could probably be one of the biggest intelligence coups of the decade. After the preliminary investigations, Harry Pappas apprises the developments and gets alarmed by the immediate war cries sounded by hawks of the Senate.

Deadly game

With war imminent, and facing a potential treason charge should his actions come to light, Harry contacts his old buddy in Britain's SIS, Adrian Winkler – a pompous, trifle distracted man, with well-placed connections. Together, they plan to identify the source and extract him from Iran for interrogation. For the job, they charter the Increment – an elite group of stealthy operatives, with mysterious identities, recruited from the SAS. The Iranians are quick to smell the leak, and their best man, Al-Majnoun, is on the job of exposing and countering it. Al-Majnoun or the ‘crazy one', a mystical ‘know-it-all' who knows the strength of intimidation, a lone enforcer, who is independent of normal bureaucracies, and who is second to none, but the supreme leader himself, moves around furtively to thwart and counter the Increment's plans.

Meanwhile, Adrian introduces Harry to Kamal Atwan, who on the outside, is just yet another ‘name-your-poobah-I-can-buy-them” businessman suckling on the fat of the land, but in better reality, is a trenchant, ‘name-your-world-I-can-rule-over-it” king-maker. Kamal Atwan helps the Increment to infiltrate into Iran and plants them right into calamity's womb.

As the plot exfoliates into its first few layers, one might sometimes get weary of the strenuous descriptions and rigmaroles of CIA procedures; but it would do your readers' souls extreme good to endure this trait of David Ignatius and read on, for the fire-crackers packed en-route to the end, making this book an exhilarating read, especially for adrenalin junkies and thriller aficionados.

Title: The Increment

Author: David Ignatius

Publisher: Quercus

Price: Rs. 299

Seshasayee is pursuing chartered accountancy.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2021 3:08:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/The-secret-group/article14698819.ece

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