Written by David Khara — You might have heard of The Bleiberg Project already – it’s the debut novel, now translated into English by Le French Book, by French writer David Khara. We interviewed the author a couple of weeks ago and he told us about his interesting start as a crime fiction author. Now, as promised, here’s the review…
Jeremy Novacek Corbin is the kind of man we love to despise nowadays. A trader with a Wall Street firm, he plays around with people’s money, and involves himself as little as possible in people’s lives. Following an accident he caused a couple of years ago, he has been numbing his pain and guilt in a fog of alcohol, stock market gambling and meaningless flings. One morning, however, Jeremy’s life acquires a new sense of purpose, as he is told of his estranged father’s death.
His father had been working undercover for the CIA and had hidden some vital information in a Swiss bank vault. Jeremy is the only one who can access it: his curiosity and desire to find out more about his father takes him on a dangerous journey half-way across the world. In doing so, he becomes a target for a shadowy international organisation – the Consortium – which seems to be above any government intervention. He is assigned a diminutive female bodyguard, Jackie, far tougher than she looks. Then, when events threaten to overwhelm them, the mysterious figure of Eytan Morgenstern appears. Is Eytan a mercenary assassin or a Mossad agent with a mission? Jeremy spends much of the book trying to grapple with a complex cast of characters and increasingly fast-paced events which he cannot completely understand.
The storyline smoothly blends memories of World War II atrocities with an account of a present day menace and manhunt. Many of the usual elements of international conspiracy are added in: an all-powerful global team, ruthless killers, betrayal of the principles of science… there are even sci-fi elements and biological experiments. As you may have read in our interview with the author, Khara is very modest about his work and makes no claims of great originality. However, the way he weaves all these elements together is quite compelling and fresh.
There is something quite heartfelt about the descriptions of Nazi crimes and their long-term consequences which raises The Bleiberg Project above the average sensationalistic description of horrors. The author seems to be a master of the gradual reveal, which will make you constantly reassess the information and change your mind about events or characters. This book has been very successful in its native France, yet is very international in feel and might even make a great Hollywood blockbuster.
David Khara is clever at following the suspense-building rules of international thrillers, but also subverting them with an ironic twist of phrase. “Take a shaker. Add a shot of Air Force, a slug of CIA, two fingers of Switzerland and a twist of Nazi. That’s a cocktail I can’t resist,” says Jeremy at the start of the book, and it’s a pretty potent cocktail that few readers seem able to decline. The first novel in the planned Consortium trilogy seems far too short and I, for one, am looking forward to reading the next.
Le French Book
CFL Rating: 4 Stars