A must read for anyone interested in political thrillers set in exotic locales and time periods.
- Book: The Italian Couple
- Location: Eritrea
- Author: J R Rogers
If the past is a foreign country, then the past in a foreign country is even more difficult to fathom. It is author John R. Rogers’s genius to set political thrillers in obscure corners of the world in a bygone era and to make that world come alive.
In The Italian Couple we are transported to Asmara, the capital of Italian Eritrea, in the late 1930s. Rogers brings us into the setting with descriptions such as this: “Men holding sticks, their heads wrapped and wearing white ankle-length garments leading a long line of camels. They were pack animals the color of worn cashmere loaded with firewood and large earthenware jugs of drinking water.”
He conjures up the bygone life of expat Europeans with tableaux so vivid you can not only see them but feel the tropical heat: “…the governor and his family and staff seated in chairs under tall umbrellas on the sprawling lawn bordered by lush vegetation and high iron gates.”
The author populates his setting with seemingly ordinary characters, among others, Mario, the race car driver, Emilia, the English-born wife of an Italian army officer, and Gyles, the British freelance foreign correspondent. Of course, each of them carries a secret that propels the plot in unexpected directions.
Rogers creates suspense slowly, subtly, as he pulls us into the story. Before we know it, we are on the edge of our seats, almost afraid to read on but unable to stop as the story builds (and twists and turns) on its way to a gut-wrenching finale.