Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Desert Contract by John Lathrop

In The Desert Contract,Steve Kemp, an American in Saudi Arabia to conduct business, is reunited with Helen, his love interest from 10 years ago. A business phone call to a diplomat accidentally put him back in touch with her again. The diplomat turns out to be Helen's husband and she answered the phone when Kemp called. Despite the fact that she's now married to Harry, Kemp and Helen rekindle their love affair. Kemp desperately wants to run off with Helen. If his last contract pays off as he expects, he'll have enough money for the two of them to leave the country together. Things seem to be working out, until some odd requests from the client makes Kemp suspicious. As he investigates further, the situation becomes more outrageous, convoluted and dangerous.

This well-written thriller is set against the explosive Middle East unrest. There's a little romance thrown into the story, but not so much so to make it syrupy. I usually don't have much interest politics or Middle Eastern affairs, but this book was extremely interesting and a great read. Lathrop not only made it interesting, he made it real. He included details only an insider would know. Each section kept drawing me further into the story. I didn't want to put the book down and was surprised as the unexpected conclusion was revealed.

I would really have appreciated if the author had included a map of the area. While I sort of know where Saudi Arabia is, I had trouble picturing in my head it's position relative to other places in the book, like Cyprus. I guess I could look that up on the internet, but it would have been nice to have a map where relevant towns, cities, or landmarks in the story were labelled.

This is John Lathrop's first novel. He's lived in many places and serves 4 years in the U.S. Air Force. He's worked around the world including the area in which this novel is set. Without a doubt, his experience allowed him to include details that added a lot of realism to the book.


For more information about this book, visit Simon & Schuster's website.

If you liked this book, you might also enjoy Invisible Armies by Jon Evans. Here's my review. This book is also a thriller that takes place in the Middle East.


  1. Great review- thanks for posting! I missed out on this one from S&S, but it's now on my wishlist! It may be a while before I get to it though-my TBR pile keeps growing and growing (not that I'm complaining, LOL!)

  2. I've found that S&S is hit or miss with me. I didn't get a bunch of them and then all of a sudden two show up. Go figure.

    I hope you like this one, if you get a chance to read it. I can see some people not liking it. I guess we all have different tastes.

    As for the growing TBR pile, I can totally relate. ;)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I'm the author! A friend just pointed me to your blog. Thanks for a great review, and I'm delighted you enjoyed the book. You MIGHT enjoy my latest, The End of the Monsoon.

    Once again, thanks!

    John Lathrop

  5. Thanks for dropping by John! I'll keep an eye out for your latest book the next time I'm in a bookstore.


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