Book Review: Banquo’s Ghosts

Bill Dyer reviews Banquos’s Ghosts, the first novel by Rich Lowry and Keith Korman, and finds it weak on writing and strong on moral clarity.  Having read so many spy novels with the opposite mix, he’s anxiously awaiting the sequel in hopes they get a better editor.

It’s been some time since I’ve found the time and energy for reading fiction, so most of my recent encounters with the spy genre have been on film.  I must say that I’ve gotten quite tired of the CIA as bad guy and the villain-as-sympathetic-character tropes.  Both were novel plot twists a quarter century ago and made for more three-dimensional characters.  Now, though, they’ve become formulaic and, given we’re in the midst of two wars, a bit demoralizing.  I’m not sure we need to go back to the entertaining but propagandistic films of John Wayne’s heyday but a couple steps back in that direction would be welcome.

Not, I hasten to add, at the cost of good writing.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    I must say that I’ve gotten quite tired of the CIA as bad guy and the villain-as-sympathetic-character tropes.

    Haven’t you read “Legacy of Ashes”? The CIA *is* the bad guy, and usually *does* act against long term American interests. Frankly, I think we ought to get rid of the CIA and rebuild from the ground up. It’s worth noting that the State Department’s intelligence analysts were dead right about Iraq before the war (no WMDs, long insurgency), while the CIA was spectacularly wrong…




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  2. James Joyner says:

    The CIA *is* the bad guy, and usually *does* act against long term American interests. Frankly, I think we ought to get rid of the CIA and rebuild from the ground up.

    I think the mix of covert ops and intelligence is a bad one, just like the FBI’s law enforcement and counterterrorism roles. Scuttling both may be smart from an institutional standpoint.

    There’s a difference, though, between that and cartoonish depictions of the CIA as out to overthrow the US government or as genuinely bad folks.




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  3. Michael says:

    Now, though, they’ve become formulaic and, given we’re in the midst of two wars, a bit demoralizing.

    Thankfully Dan Brown has a new novel coming out….




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  4. sam says:

    I’ll only consider reading it if the hero gets to bed a Sarah Palin look-a-like. One of the authors has some major wood for Moose Huntin’ Barbie. Per ardua ad astrabursts.




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