Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris - Book Review

The Dreyfus Affair – fails to meet the ‘Robert Harris’ level

This is a historical fiction based on the Dreyfus Affair in France between 1880 and 1910, where an army officer (a rich Jew) was falsely convicted of treason by conniving army leadership and his struggle to prove his innocence. The story is told in first person by another army officer, the ‘hero’ who against tremendous odds and suffering major hardships finally brings out the real story that helps to get Dreyfus free.

Set in an interesting period of France’s history and in the background of a growing ant-Semitism in Europe, Robert Harris brings out in exquisite detail the life in French society and the corruption in the army leadership.  But unlike in the authors earlier bestsellers like Pompeii or Ghost Writer the suspense and twists are missing. So after the initial enthusiasm of getting my hands on to a Robert Harris Novel, I found my interest level slipping.  I was at least hoping for a major climax at the end, which failed to materialize.

The book is definitely a good read – especially for those interested in hearing this version of the Dreyfus affair.  But as a great admirer of Robert Harris works (I have read all his books till date), my verdict is that this one fails to meet the high bar that he has set.

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