Top Tier (4 to 5 stars)

The Migrant, by Paul Alkazraji

4 stars

Set in 2012, this novel deals with migrants from Albania, entering Greece full of hope – and finding even more problems than they ran from. Well then, my friend, shall we cross the border?

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Thrillers are defined through a number of things. Plot twists and action, of course, but the characters are also really important. And I’m not only talking heroes here – any thriller worth his salt needs a good villain.

A villain, you say?

That’s actually a point of critique I have here. There’s a villainy Greek henchmen in this story (named after a god), and he turns out not only to be a racist (which was expected, it’s kind of his qualification for this job), but also to be a stereotypical sadist. Which is a kind of villain that can be easily written, but it’s also very cliche.

Another important thing for a good thriller is pace, and I’m happy to report that The Migrant hits it just right in my opinion. The story continuously moves forward, although I felt left out at a very few moments. That’s due to the fact that this book has a precessor I haven’t read, but don’t worry – you’re not missing much, you just don’t recognize some people. It doesn’t break the story for you if you haven’t read the first book.

The clash of cultures – Albanian and Greek, all seen through the eyes of an Englishman – makes for a very interesting backdrop to the story. It builds a colorful tapestry and adds depth to the characters. It also means there’s a lot of hate going around.

The Greek hate all Albanians, while the south Albanians only hate the north Albanians. Must be a cultural thing.

When all is said and done, this is a good thriller with an unusual setting that’s rather heavy on contemporary politics, even though it takes place a few years in the past. After all, those themes are – in the worst possibly way – timeless.

4 stars for me.

By Stefan

father of two, not enough time to read everything I want to read

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