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Bookmarks Issue: 
13-Nov-Dec-2004
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0

A Novel

A-SleeperThe Sleeper continues Kurt Kurtovic’s adventures from Innocent Blood (1997), in which he took up arms as an Army Ranger in Panama and the Gulf War, and fought in Bosnia as a Muslim terrorist. In Sleeper, Kurt’s back in Kansas with a wife, child, and staid career. But 9/11 threatens his idyllic existence. Knowing the ins-and-outs of military (and terrorist) life and possessing a deadly secret himself, he’s recruited by the CIA. When he decides to strike first against al-Qaeda operatives, he finds that those meant to protect him are, instead, his worst enemy—and will happily endanger his life, his family’s lives, and the future.
Simon & Schuster. 288 pages. $24. ISBN: 0743258770

Baltimore Sun 4 of 5 Stars
"Fortunately for readers, Christopher Dickey has produced in The Sleeper [a post 9/11 novel] that is both sophisticated and compelling. … It would be a shame to disclose the twists of the plot, but it would also be irresponsible not to warn the reader that, satisfactory as this thriller is almost to the very last, the ending is marred by a forced and unduly sentimental concluding scene." John E. McIntyre

Denver Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The Sleeper is a tightly rendered story that, by virtue of its plot, makes disbelief a little easier to suspend. … The best parts of The Sleeper come when Dickey sticks to the action, but he adds just enough of Kurt’s emotional angst about his relationships with his wife and young daughter." Tom Walker

St. Petersburg Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Fortunately for us, Dickey has supplied all the good stuff that makes the story work at levels well above its James Bond tendency. … The characters [Kurtovic] encounters along the way are excellent, because Dickey spends as much time fleshing them out as he does with those central to the story." Jean Heller

Washington Post 0.5 of 5 Stars
"[A]ll Americans, and all readers of fiction, should resent this book. The horrendous, unprecedented reality in which we now live demands that art be created about it, not exploitation." Neil Gordon

Critical Summary

A new thriller subgenre emerged after 9/11, which both capitalized on the terrorist attacks and tried to make sense of them. The Sleeper, by Newsweek magazine’s Paris bureau chief and Middle East editor, belongs to this group. Dickey cites his own "reporting about terrorist organizations, guerrilla wars, and government conspiracies since 1980" as inspiration for the novel’s action-packed scenes, which take place from Granada to Guantanamo. Most critics found Sleeper sophisticated, skillfully rendered, and disturbing—just ignore the ending. Only the Washington Post disagrees, citing the novel as "a tasteless endeavor" at best and, at worst, a shamefully distorted portrait of world affairs. Is apocalypse really approaching?