“Book Review: Bury Me in Valletta”
Reviewed by Liam Anthony
The third novel in the Pierre Farag series is a compulsive and highly entertaining read.
Bury me in Valletta is a book built on mysteries and suspense. A thriller with myriad twists and turns, this book leaves readers with only one thing to do: keep reading. With its compulsive and coincidental nature, it’s never quite safe to put down.
This international spy thriller tells the story of Ralph Stonehouse, a senior intelligence bureaucrat in Whitehall. With an array of secrets to keep safe, Ralph has to defend anything from getting out for the safety of both his job and his family. As we wait on edge for if these secrets will surface, we recognize the dire consequences they hold, especially for his daughter Emma. And when Ralph’s career is in trouble, it’s up to Egyptian-Armenian spy Pierre Farag to save the day.
Stuart Campbell offers thrilling and assiduous prose in this one. His cleverly executed dialogue guides the narrative at a fast pace, and the author portrays 1970s Britain in a really satisfying way. Not only because of the accurate political landscape of the time, but the language and ideologies of the characters ring true and ring naturally.
Campbell has a skill at allowing humor to surface even in the most sinister scenes in the novel. Pierre Farag is great to follow around, particularly his humorous anecdotes including an ambivalence to the word “fuck.” He even manages to convey Ralph’s relationship with his wife in a tumultuous and yet amusing way.
The character of Emma Stonehouse is probably one of my favorite aspects of the novel. She transforms from a political science student interested in political activism to becoming the guiding spirit of the book’s narrative. Readers are sure to enjoy watching her shed her naivety and chase her desire to leave a sheltered, conservative middle-class home. It’s fascinating to speculate about what influence her actions will have on her life.
Even for readers who wouldn’t normally opt for the thriller genre, this book has enough humanity and worthwhile characters to keep your attention. The tenderness that forms between Emma and Zouzou conveys a certain message of sisterhood. It’s refreshing to see the more poignant moments juxtaposed with the clandestine worlds of Pierre and Ralph.
Bury me in Valletta is a novel to be devoured, one to not leave the house without. Each chapter unravels a labyrinth of secrets and chances. If I hadn’t read it as a reviewer, I would have saved it for a holiday or a long-haul flight.
Paperback: 280 pages
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