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The Confessor ()


“The ‘issue’ [behind the series] is and was torture—political and familial,” said Smith. “It was the main reason I wrote ‘The Inquisitor,’ and continued exploring it in the sequel, ‘The Confessor.’ I very much wanted to draw a connecting line between political interrogation and familial and child abuse, to explore one of the darkest, sad realities of the human condition—that the ability to torture is not some rare aberration, but an all-too frequent occurrence in everyday life.”

The series was inspired by an incident that occurred in 1980 when Smith was an investigative news producer for ABC’s 20/20. He said, “I became involved in a story about a brutal political torture/murder by the secret police of Paraguay’s right-wing dictatorship. The victim was Joel Filartiga, the 17 year-old son of a courageous doctor and political dissident, Dr. Jose Filartiga. Dr. Filartiga and his daughter, Dolly, came to America, armed with a harrowing story and photographs of the son’s tortured body. It was a shocking awakening, and stayed with me, and changed me.

“In 1987, the murder of six-year old Lisa Steinberg in New York City after years of torture by her adoptive father became a national outrage. More stories about parental abuse started to emerge. I had become a father, and I remember holding my sleeping three-year old son in my arms and trying to put myself inside the head of a man who tortures his own child. Then another thought came: If a child survives years of torture, who do they grow up to be?” How do they anchor themselves in the world?”

    -INTERVIEW: Interview with thriller author Mark Allen Smith (Terry Ambrose, July 21, 2015, The Examiner)


A number of reviewers were quite confused by this book, not realizing it was a sequel to the author's earlier effort, The Inquisitor, which we enjoyed. Improbably enough, pretty much everyone from that first novel is back and there's a certain re-run quality to this follow-up. The experiences of the first adventure have also given the group of characters around our anti-hero, the torture expert Geiger, the feel of a family. This is kind of jarring, but does fit with Mark Allen Smith's stated aim of exploring what kind of adult must result from years of childhood torture. In Geiger's case the result is a profoundly damaged man, but one trying to be a better person than his background seems likely to produce.

Mr. Smith wisely focuses more on the action than on the questions and renders a readable, though derivative (of himself), thriller.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B-)

  

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Mark Smith (2 books reviewed)
Thrillers
Mark Smith Links:

    -AUTHOR PAGE: Mark Allen Smith (Simon and Schuster)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview with thriller author Mark Allen Smith (Terry Ambrose, July 21, 2015, The Examiner)
“The ‘issue’ [behind the series] is and was torture—political and familial,” said Smith. “It was the main reason I wrote ‘The Inquisitor,’ and continued exploring it in the sequel, ‘The Confessor.’ I very much wanted to draw a connecting line between political interrogation and familial and child abuse, to explore one of the darkest, sad realities of the human condition—that the ability to torture is not some rare aberration, but an all-too frequent occurrence in everyday life.”

The series was inspired by an incident that occurred in 1980 when Smith was an investigative news producer for ABC’s 20/20. He said, “I became involved in a story about a brutal political torture/murder by the secret police of Paraguay’s right-wing dictatorship. The victim was Joel Filartiga, the 17 year-old son of a courageous doctor and political dissident, Dr. Jose Filartiga. Dr. Filartiga and his daughter, Dolly, came to America, armed with a harrowing story and photographs of the son’s tortured body. It was a shocking awakening, and stayed with me, and changed me.

“In 1987, the murder of six-year old Lisa Steinberg in New York City after years of torture by her adoptive father became a national outrage. More stories about parental abuse started to emerge. I had become a father, and I remember holding my sleeping three-year old son in my arms and trying to put myself inside the head of a man who tortures his own child. Then another thought came: If a child survives years of torture, who do they grow up to be?” How do they anchor themselves in the world?”

    -REVIEW: of The Confessor by Mark Allen Smith (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Confessor (Jake Kerridge, The Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Confessor (Drunken Dragon Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Inquisitor (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Inquisitor (Kirkus Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of The Inquisitor (Kathleen Daley, Newark Star-Ledger)
    -REVIEW: of The Inquisitor (Linda Morefield, Washington Independent Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Inquisitor (Open Letters Monthly)
    -REVIEW: of The Inquisitor (Now is Gone)
    -REVIEW: of The Inquisitor (Backlisted)

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