cover image The American Mission

The American Mission

Matthew Palmer. Putnam, $26.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-399-16570-2

Palmer, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service currently assigned to the American embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, brings his professional expertise to his debut, a timely thriller. Alex Baines, a disgraced Foreign Service employee, in an effort to revive his career, takes a job in the Congo working under his old mentor, Ambassador Howard “Spence” Spencer. Alex, whose rabble rousing in previous posts often got him in hot water, soon discovers that Spence has a suspiciously cozy relationship with the country’s dictator, President Silwamba. Both Spence and Silwamba, in turn, seem overly willing to meet the needs of Consolidated Mining, an American company with a reputation for exploiting Africa’s mineral resources. When Alex doesn’t like what he sees, his sense of justice puts him between powerful forces that have never hesitated to eliminate trouble makers. A satisfying finale and a nuanced view of the diplomatic life more than compensate for bland prose and mechanical plotting. [em]Author tour. Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (June) [/em]