Item description for The Cardamom Club by Jon Stock...
This fast-paced spy thriller set in the British ex-pat community of New Delhi tells the story of Raj Nair, a young British Asian doctor in his first job with MI6. Soon after he begins his job assignment, he is forced to question his own loyalties when his father is arrested in Britain on spy charges. Raj realizes that he is up against a secretive, colonial organization working at the very heart of Whitehall—the Cardamom Club. He must face the challenge of exposing the club before it destroys him.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.75" Weight: 0.28 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2007
Publisher Arcadia Books
ISBN 1901969185 ISBN13 9781901969184
Availability 0 units.
More About Jon Stock
Jon Stock is a freelance journalist who writes for "The Daily Telegraph" and "The Week," one of India's leading news magazines.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Cardamom Club?
Tepid Thriller Oct 19, 2005
Several years ago I read and loved Stock's first book, The Riot Act, so I was psyched to finally track down his second. Drawing upon his two years in New Delhi as a foreign correspondent, Stock's written a semi-thriller that suffers from being a bit broad in scope and a bit sappy in the romance. The protagonist is Raj Nair, a young doctor born and bred in Scotland to Indian parents who immigrated in the early '60s and completely severed ties with the homeland. If this seems a little strange, that's because the explanation is reserved for a later plot point. To the apparent indifference of his father, Raj has accepted a position with the British High Commission to serve in India -- and do a little light espionage on the side. Things start promisingly enough, as he settles into the strange rhythms of expat life and has to come to terms with being neither an Indian, nor a fully acceptable Brit. This theme of cultural and national identity is at the core of the story, but it never gets beyond the "cricket test" basics.
A few strange episodes start the story properly rolling. First, his intelligence officer controller in Delhi gives Raj some odd vibes. Then he not allowed to see a whacked-out English hippie traveler (who is actually Dutchie, the hero of The Riot Act!) at the clinic without the permission of the intelligence officer. Then, a poor Indian man accosts him with pictures of a mutilated baby and talk of an English witch doctor. Finally, most disturbingly, he is warned to stay away from the only true friends he's made, a British expat couple who introduce him to a local woman he falls in love with. It's not quite love at first sight, but it's not far from it either, and their romance never really comes alive for the reader. It's pretty sappy stuff, mixed in with the usual cross-cultural roadblocks (a looming arranged marriage, local notions of propriety, etc.).
Raj is eventually asked to look in on an older British official who lives down south in Kerala -- which leads him into the heart of a byzantine scheme. This is where the story really started to lose my interest. The villain is pretty well established as a bad guy from the get go, so there's no real tension generated in that sense. The espionage plot is built around the remnants of the old Indian Political Intelligence, a British government agency set up in the years preceding World War I (for those who are interested, their archives were declassified in 1997 and you can purchase copies of all 57,800+ pages for around $12,000). As the basis for a thriller, it just never quite generates enough momentum to thrill, and struggles to lift itself into the realm of believability. Which is not to say that the outlandish can't be true (see Kim Philby, et al), or that the outlandish can't be the basis for a great thriller (see Frederick Forsyth's The Odessa File), but Stock just hasn't nailed it here. And many readers will find the ending a little too much -- while those who've read The Riot Act will see it coming a mile off. On the plus side, some of the cultural details and description is quite nicely done and does a good job of capturing the setting. Still, I can't say I really recommend it (sorry John!). Apparently a sequel is in the works.