When Kat was in intelligence school, she took a course on games, the most challenging of which was putting together a three-dimensional wooden puzzle. Every piece had its place, but there was only one solution that used them all. That, in a nutshell, is how this book works. It offers a wealth of fully-realized characters, locales, and events that all click together in the end, in a story that is bold, timely, and breathtakingly well told.
The prince of the title is an orphaned Moroccan boy who is apprehended in the company of two shady Iranians and detained in an Afghan prison, where Kat, an Arabic-speaking intelligence officer, tries to figure out what to do with the child. He's eventually dispatched to Spain to mingle with the North African ?migr? community and provide information to his CIA handler. When he bolts, Kat is brought in to find him. But clearly something is amiss, and she soon realizes that finding the boy will endanger his life.
The Prince of Bagram Prison is a masterpiece of narration. It moves through time and across a global stage, with each piece beautifully crafted. The author assembles them, bit by bit, with precision and skill. With a large cast, but not a wasted word, she brings times and places to life, from a desolate Moroccan prison, to the last days of South Vietnam, to the weirdly alternate universe of US interrogators in post 9/11 Afghanistan. Everything culminates in a climax that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Every bit as good as the finest John le Carr?; this novel is a beautifully written tour de force.