A fun epistolary novel which satirizes British government (much like other Western governments, I would imagine) as a fisheries scientist comes to work side by side with a Sheikh from the Yemen in order to introduce the sport of salmon fishing to this desert country. Initially, of course, people decry this project as unnecessary and a bad use of resources, but as the scheme continues and things seem to going according to plan, the project becomes much more of a reality.
As I mentioned, it’s an epistolary novel which means that it is made up of letters and other communication detritus: emails, government reports, police interrogations… All this adds up to an effective way to show multiple points of view from the various characters without it being heavy handed. It also works to weave together the various strands of the different plots that occur throughout the novel.
The author is an avid angler and seems to be well versed in the industry of governmental work and although I generally think that both of these topics can be extremely boring, this novel elevates the plot to the level of it being difficult to put the book down. Additionally, there is a big surprise at the end (although there have been hints earlier in the novel), an unpredictability that I really enjoyed.
The overall message of optimism is effectively woven throughout the story, and although the ending is not a All’s-Well-That-Ends Well type of snuggly ending, it does work.
I really enjoyed this – a fast read, believable characters who do believable actions, and an unpredictable ending.