"Rather than demonising Islamic terrorism, particularly Palestinian, McCutcheon opens a window into their desperate situation. This may well be the way forward in spy thrillers."
The reviews have started to come in for The Cobbler's Apprentice - the thriller with large sections set in Morocco and particularly in the Medina of Fez.
Jeff Popple, writing in the Canberra Times says:
The best of the current crop of terrorist novels is The Cobbler's Apprentice, by Australian author Sandy McCutcheon. This intelligent novel blends the machinations of the spy novel with the action and geopolitics of the international thriller to produce a credible and truly scary read. McCutcheon has a good grasp of modern-day politics and has concocted a clever plot that grips the reader's attention from the opening page to the final twist.
This is no black and white account of terrorism but an intricate, mufti-layered tale that captures the complexity of the war on terrorism and the people caught up in it. This is McCutcheon's finest novel to date and the best spy thriller I have read in some time.
Patricia Escalon writing for the Australia Council The Program says:
A spook thriller in the post-millenial jihadi era, The Cobbler's Apprentice keeps a furious pace, reeling in the reader from the opening sentences.
As a thriller, The Cobbler’s Apprentice hits the spot almost unerringly. Each chapter raises the stakes, compelling the reader to continue until the last page.
The bazaars in Fez heave around us. The smells assault our nostrils in our imagination. Funnily enough, we identify with Sami, our young mujahedeen. McCutcheon paints a very human portrait of Sami, one that reveals the motivations behind suicide bombers and the extremes that drive them to violence. Rather than demonising Islamic terrorism, particularly Palestinian, McCutcheon opens a window into their desperate situation. This may well be the way forward in spy thrillers.
Ross Fitzgerald writing in The Australian:
SANDY McCutcheon's latest fictive offering has a lot going for it. From Canada and the US to England, Cuba and Morocco, The Cobbler's Apprentice follows a young Palestinian, Samir Al-Hassani, who after being arrested in Iraq is held at Guantanamo Bay prison, from which he almost miraculously escapes. This sets up the book's basic tension: who is pulling the strings? Is it Samir's fellow jihadis, the Israeli secret service, the CIA and other agents based in Washington or a combination of the above?
The novel's central conceit -- terrorism and counter-terrorism via bacteriological warfare -- works extremely well. Along with airborne anthrax, pneumonic plague is one of the most virulent means of causing large-scale human casualties: the prospect of carriers infecting masses of people, especially in urban areas in the West, is terrifying indeed.
McCutcheon is most compelling describing the back streets of Morocco, especially the labyrinthine laneways of Fez. As a long-time Western agent reminisces, "Morocco had become one of his favourite destinations. Three times he had spent vacations touring the country, and twice agency business had taken him to Casablanca. Although he enjoyed most places in the country, it was Fez, with its extraordinary medina and old gardens, that lured him back time and again."
The Cobbler's Apprentice succeeds where many such novels fail.
The character of young Samir as a biological weapon of mass destruction, now aimed at those who released him, is utterly unforgettable, as is the determined and fully rounded photojournalist Nicolas Lander.
Jan Hallam writing in the Sunday Times says:
Sandy McCutcheon is one of a few mass market Australian novelists to tackle terrorism.
His recent thriller, Black Widow, looks at the aftermath of the 2004 Beslan siege, while his latest, The Cobbler’s Apprentice, follows a terror suspect, Samir Al-Hassani, who leaves Guantanamo Bay and becomes an agent of mass destruction.
It’s a gripping read because of its eerie prescience. In McCutcheon’s professional hands, it will also have you reading on the edge of your seats.
Samela Harris Adelaide Advertiser
This book is nothing less than a rip-roaring action thriller with politicians and thugs, scientists and spies — and an unnerving sense of the possible.
Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin
In a word: Compelling!
Copies can be purchased by following this link: Gleebooks Online.
Tags: Morocco Fes, Maghreb news
A great post if you are buying property in Morocco. THE VIEW FROM FEZ: Buying property in Morocco - Essential Reading.