“From the White House they took a driving tour of some of the Zone’s other sights, eventually circling back to the center of the Mall, where they proceeded on foot to the base of the Washington Monument. Colonel Yunus drew Mustafa’s attention to a series of pockmarks in the obelisk’s north face. These were, he explained, the result of insurgent mortar strikes, the Monument having become a target after rumors spread that Bolous al Darir was planning to use it as the gnomon for a giant Islamic prayer clock.”
The trouble is that I wanted a lot more from this, after falling in love with Matt Ruff’s last book, Bad Monkeys, rather a lot. But The Mirage is just diverting, serviceable; it’s got a couple of good jokes, but it plays them out for too long, and its suspense plot is totally adequate until you remember that Monkeys made you scratch your head, not just slog through the kind of extended cinematic action sequence that someone like Lee Child — a novelist of modest gifts, who nonetheless knows precisely what those gifts are and what they can do for him — is able to pull off much better.