Richard North Patterson, besides being one of our best and most intelligent novelists, is arguably the current master of the suspense novel as an exploration and dissection of contemporary political, geopolitical, moral, and ethical issues.
Originally a trial lawyer, he uses his deep knowledge of the law, the legal process, and criminal procedure to place his protagonists in situations that enable him to deal with his main concern – the moral, legal, and ethical issues that confront them.
At its core, Exile, published in 2007, is the story of a Jewish-American lawyer, David Wolfe, who is asked by Hana Arif, a Palestinian woman with whom he had a secret affair 13 years earlier when they were law school classmates, to defend her when she is implicated in the assassination of the visiting Israeli prime minister in San Francisco.
In the hands of a lesser author, the book would just have been a combination police procedural/courtroom drama. In Patterson’s hands, however, the book is enriched immeasurably by a lengthy exploration of the ethical, moral, political, safety, and personal issues raised by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, especially Israel’s legitimate safety concerns versus the Palestinian actions in their quest for nationhood, and the geopolitical interests of Syria and Iraq allied to extremists of all stripes and religions.
By enlarging the context of the basic David Wolfe/Hana Arif story to include more than just the personal, Patterson engages the reader to ponder the larger issues, as well as the smaller, more domestic ones.
Patterson’s newest book In the Name of Honor (2010) is a study of the corrosive effects of war on the warriors that fight them and the families they leave behind. As in Exile, the dramatic centerpiece is a trial, but in this case a court martial instead of a regular civilian trial.
Each book is heavily and intelligently researched, exceedingly well crafted, and compulsively readable.
Check the WRL catalog for Exile
Check the WRL catalog for In the Name of Honor