Friday, 13 November 2015
Olives: A Violent Romance - Alexander McNabb
Title: Olives: A Violent Romance
Author: Alexander McNabb
“Olives – A Violent Romance” by Alexander McNabb is a suspense novel with a hint of romance. It follows Paul Stokes, a British Journalist who moves to Amman, Jordan to produce a magazine for Jordan’s Ministry of Natural Resources. . First on the magazine’s agenda is an upcoming bid for a project addressing Jordan’s water scarcity. Two bidders, a Palestinian company and a British company are the final contenders to resolve Jordan’s water crisis. When Paul missteps with the Jordanian police, the British embassy step into help, but in exchange they want Paul to provide them with economic Intel on the Palestinian bid. However, when Paul enters into a close relationship with Aisha Dajani whose family is fronting the bid and has supposed ties to terrorist activists, he begins to wonder what the right thing to do is.
This was quite an entertaining story that paints an interesting and complex picture of life in Jordan. The little pieces of cultural flavour and geographical details that McNabb has embedded in the story really adds to the depth of the story and helps let me as a reader understand more about an area of the world that I have limited knowledge on.
In regards to the characters, I have to admit I was worried as I read through the book when it began to appear as if all the Palestinian characters were pretty much terrorism supporting caricatures. Therefore as the story progressed, I began to appreciate that this was just the obvious first impressions of the protagonist and that McNabb was willing to show the complexity and variation between them all. I loved how in the end, no one was really who they appeared to be which ensured the suspense levels of the novel were kept high.
The only down side for me was in regards to Paul himself. I understand why he was chosen to narrate the story as he is the central characters, but I was never able to fully understand him. At times, he came across as a serious middle aged guy who knew his stuff and then the next moment he came across as a rather naïve and impetuous twenty year old. It was quite frustrating and contrasted badly with some of the other characters who seemed so much more dynamic and interesting.
Overall, “Olives – A Violent Romance” is an enjoyable enough story that tries to highlight the many complex issues of Jordan, its people and the Middle East as a whole. If only the main character was a more interesting character then I may have enjoyed it even more.