The Mysteries of Algiers

Robert Irwin, Author Viking Books $16.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-670-81822-8
Irwin's ( The Arabian Nightmare ) latest opens with one of the characters musing over a Camus essay on the nature of violence and political change. It is an apt curtain raiser for this fast-paced and absorbing political thriller. Set during the French-Algerian War, the novel describes a revolutionary struggle that becomes an ideological bloodbath. The book's protagonist, Phillippe Roussel, an intelligence officer attached to the Foreign Legion in Algiers, is a spy and human time-bomb in the midst of the French colonists. A veteran of the Indo-China war, Roussel was brainwashed in a Vietnamese detention center and sent back to the colonial fold to wreak havoc clandestinely in support of national liberation movements. In a violent odyssey through the casbahs and dark, twisting backstreets of Algiers, where he contacts the FLN underground, Roussel's adventures are peopled with a terrifying crew of thugs posing as revolutionaries, who vie with the colonial occupiers, themselves specialists in torture and casual violence. Propelled by a mad, Marxist sense of historical inevitability, Roussel indiscriminately kills anybody who does not share his sense of a divine political mission. At times Irwin stretches credibility with Roussel's superhuman talent for eluding his pursuers and recovering from violent injury. But the book's daredevil plot-twists and eerie character-study cast a dramatic spell. (October)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 100 pages - 978-1-873982-60-0
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-14-012767-6
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