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The Increment: A Novel
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Product Description

By the author of the best-selling Body of Lies, a novel that takes the reader inside the most volatile secret of the twenty-first century: the Iranian nuclear program. From a hidden enclave in the maze of Tehran, an Iranian scientist who calls himself “Dr. Ali” sends an encrypted message to the CIA. It falls to Harry Pappas to decide if it’s for real. Dr. Ali sends more secrets of the Iranian bomb program to the agency, then panics. He’s being followed, but he doesn’t know who’s onto him, and neither does Pappas. The White House is no help—they’re looking for a pretext to attack Tehran.

To get his agent out, Pappas turns to a secret British spy team known as “The Increment,” whose operatives carry the modern version of the double-O “license to kill.” But the real story here is infinitely more complicated than he understands, and to get to the bottom of it he must betray his own country.

The Increment is The Spy Who Came In from the Cold set in Iran, with a dose of Graham Greene’s The Human Factor to highlight the subtleties of betrayal.

Customer Reviews:

  • It started out so strong but...
    "The Increment" started out so strong, the characters were so strong, the plot was crisp and the whole thing just felt right.

    The plot centers around two characters - an Iranian nuclear scientist that is disillusioned with the Iranian regime. The other character is a veteran CIA chief - the head of the Iranian desk.

    Like I said, the book starts out very strong. I was intrigued by the characters, the situation and the backstory of the two main characters.

    By the end of the first page I was convinced I was reading a 5 star book.

    But, the characters started to change. They started acting differently. For example, the head of the CIA is a retired Admiral. He comes off as a principled, with-it kind of leader who is just out of his element when he's not commanding a ship. Fine. Later on, he has multiple scenes in which he just plays with toy ships rather than making decisions. He goes from being a leader to being a little boy. Other characters make similar shifts.

    So, for the 2nd 100 pages I had determined that this was probably a 4 star book. Good, but not great.

    Throw in the goofy technology (you cannot power an electronic device through radio waves, folks, if we could your cell phone would never run out of power), the satellite system that literally takes dozens of photos of ALL of Iran, including dumpy little towns that aren't even on the map (we photograph every square inch all day long and we don't know what's going on?), and the skimpy treatment of the special unit that the book is named after and...

    well, the book degenerated to a 3 star piece of pulp fiction. Nothing special. It's a good airplane ride read....more info
  • Decent Modern Terrorism Thriller
    David Ingatius, fresh off the success of his last novel BODY OF LIES (made into the Ridley Scott film starring Leo Di Caprio and Russell Crowe), returns with another tale of modern-day terrorism and espionage with THE INCREMENT.

    The story centers around the most volatile secret of the twenty-first century, the Iranian Nuclear Program. With a 'mad' Iranian scientist who calls himself Dr. Ali sending encrypted messages to the CIA, Agent Harry Pappas is at a loss whether or not to believe what this alleged scientist is claiming.

    The novel twists and turns with some very good, James Bond-like moments. However, like BODY OF LIES, the story is sometimes hard to follow and the heavy use of code speak and acronyms adds to this confusion. Ignatius is a solid writer but I really prefer his earlier work, like A FIRING OFFENSE....more info
  • Incrementally better with every page
    Wow I really loved this novel. A gripping page turner that never lets up. This could easily have been the real Iran even though it's a work of fiction. I'm not a huge fan of Spy Thrillers, but this got to me. I felt sucked in from the first few chapters and as I accelerated to the end I did not want to put it down.

    You really feel the characters in this novel, you identify with Harry Pappas, and the young Scientist who get caught in the middle of a crap storm of Nuclear Bomb growing pains in Iran, and the business of the world. I feel the author did a great job of making the working of a country trying to acquire ABOMB tecnology understandable to the average reader. Telling us just enough for it to make sense without it getting too confusing. Then getting down to the work of making us believe in the characters he created.
    Then giving us a glimpse of what the CIA and SIS feel like, I found myself completely engrossed in the story, because of the authors ability to tell it so well.

    Highly recommended from a person who does not do Spy novels. If you have any interest in these type of novels you won't be sorry you picked this one up. Even if your like I am and don't usually read these types of novels, you will throughly enjoy this one. Really outstanding....more info
  • Fun mindless espinage-type read that doesn't require much effort
    This book was just plain good fun. I read it in an afternoon enjoying some nice weather on my deck and found it a quick, mindless yet entertaining page-turner.
    And hey, it is relevant to the times we live in today. Iran has been in the news tons lately and with good reason. What I liked about this book was that I don't think it took itself too seriously. Anything with this much betrayal and plot twists can't really.

    Great summer read. Get this book....more info
  • Interesting and timely spy novel
    The Increment reminds me of some of the best of LeCarre's novel, and is more a thoughtful spy novel than a thriller. The characters are crisp and innovative, the procedures and spycraft believable, and the plot moves quickly. Descriptions of exotic places are convincing. Highly recommended....more info
  • Nothing Groundbreaking, But A Good, Quick Read
    With "The Increment," a twenty-first century spy story, David Ignatius, a prize-winning columnist for the "Washington Post," who has been covering the Middle East and the CIA for more than twenty-five years, remains in his comfort zones, as he did in his most previous novel, the New York Times best seller, Body of Lies: A Novel . In "The Increment," an action/thriller/drama, he turns his attention to what surely constitutes one of the current world's most volatile controversies, the Iranian nuclear program.

    The CIA one day receives what it characterizes as a "virtual walk-in," an unsolicited email, encrypted, to one of its covert electronic mailboxes, from an Iranian scientist, who calls himself "Dr. Ali."The scientist, writing from a hidden server in Tehran, offers secrets of the Iranian nuclear development program. It falls to Harry Pappas, suffering from the loss of his only son in Iraq, to evaluate Dr. Ali and his offerings; to decide if he/they are genuine, and, if so, to run, and to protect, this extremely valuable acquisition. Not least from his own presidential administration, downtown, just looking for an excuse to attack Iran, on top of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A tale ripped from the headlines, no?

    Sooner rather than later, the Iranians will begin to circle Dr. Ali. Pappas will be unable to protect him with CIA assets, and so will have to go to his old friends in the British secret service, MI6, or SIS; who do have the assets to do the job: a super secret spy team, recruited from the SAS, military special services, known as "The Increment," all carrying James Bond's legendary double-0 "license to kill," sent to do the wettest of wet work. Double- and triple-crosses will, of course, ensue.

    It should first be said that this is a well-done, highly professional piece of work. The descriptions of Tehran, Iran, its neighboring countries, even London and Washington, are well-observed, witty, and detailed. The writing is tight. The book moves fast, is exciting, and maintains interest, though the real action doesn't start til the book is halfway through, page 200 of nearly 400, with the infiltration of the increment to Iran. It's not surprising that the book has already been optioned by Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer, who will undoubtedly make an action-packed thriller of a movie of it, similar to that made of Ignatius's previous work, Body of Lies that starred Leonardo Di Caprio.

    It must also be said that there's nothing terribly new here - spy stories have been built on tales of double- and triple-crosses for generations now. We are accustomed to meeting shrewd, ruthless Middle Eastern intelligence men: we even met some in "Body." We're also accustomed by now, to perfidious Albion: the idea that the British cannot be trusted. Pappas at one point muses that he "always came away from these meetings[with MI6] with a sense that his British colleagues were better suited for the game than Americans were. They weren't any better at keeping secrets, but they were better at telling lies." A few pages on he "looked at the three SAS warriors in mufti. It was impossible not to like them, or to have confidence that they would do their jobs. It was a feeling he didn't have often enough at the CIA. That was what had brought him here, really. The British could execute a daring mission, decisively and deniably, and his own service couldn't, or wouldn't."

    Ignatius obviously also returns in this book to the commonly-held view that Americans are too decent, too na?ve, to function well in the cut-throat world of the spy. In this regard, this actually differs from "Body," his most previous work, in which the Americans were rather ugly. However, bear in mind that there's a distinguished line of twentieth-century spy fiction, beginning with Graham Greene's The Quiet American; and continuing with that author's The Human Factor , among other works; and thence on to the works of John LeCarre, among others, Absolute Friends, that expressed this point of view. So, nothing groundbreaking here, but a good quick read.

    ...more info
  • Adventurous, Albeit Too Self-Aware
    Ignatius, a columnist for the "centrist"/left leaning Washington Post, makes a fair effort to address the inherent ambiguities of post-Revolution Iran in his latest novel. Not entirely sure of its theme, "The Increment" mixes plausible foreign affairs speculation with less compelling and occasionally hyperbolic action and political dogma in a way that is entertaining in the short term but ultimately unsatisfying. I hardly profess expertise on Iranian internal affairs myself, and yet I've attended enough Western liberal arts school classes to tell when an author is projecting their own biases into the work unconciously (Ignatius at least has the defense that this is a work of fiction). Not the least of these is the author's presumption, reinforced by the unique echo chamber that is Washington, D.C., that everything is shades of grey and ulterior motives rule the day. Without repeating too much of the plot set forth in some of the other good reviews, Ignatius' apparent surface understanding of Iranian culture combined with inherent predispostions as a Washington correspondent result in a novelistic tangle between semi-corrupt state organs in the Western powers and the conflicted individuals in Iran that is entertaining without being compelling. It's summer time here in the States and this book won't let you down at the beach, but the ultimate feeling is akin to sailing headlong down a speeding river without actually encountering any exciting rapids: the result never quite matches the anticipation....more info
  • The title really threw me off.
    "The Increment" was a paramilitary group designed to take on the impossible missions that would hinder even the Army Rangers, Navy Seals or the Mossad might encounter. Spetnaz on steroids. The book title and jacket give the reader the impression that this is the focus of the story, but that's not so. Harry Pappas, a long-term CIA official is really the main character and revolves around his attempt to forestall a war with Iran, as all those around him develop a blood-lust to go in and start another Iraq. As he works to overcome his own demons (his son was killed in Iraq, and he blames himself in part because he sat back and let the government use information that he knew was faulty for an excuse to go to war). This time he will try anything to keep that from happening. His attempts to locate an Iranian scientist who can help him with his case against war is really the focus of the book, and it's a good one. I really enjoyed the book ,but kept wondering where "The Increment" was, until about two thirds of the way into the book when they come - they go, and Harry is left standing. I won't bust the plot for you - it's a good one. I'm glad I read it....more info
  • I'm now officially a David Ignatius fan!
    This is a well-written novel that grabs you by both lapels and doesn't let go. He's created a new super-secret British intelligence group that's both believable and intriguing. In my humble opinion "The Increment" is an even better read than his excellent "Body of Lies" and David Ignatius writes about Middle East like no one else. Can't wait for his next book....more info
  • Subtle, intelligent thriller about Iran's nuclear weapons program
    In "The Increment," the CIA gets a "walk-in visitor" to its website in the form of an email containing a document, which seems to be giving information about Iran's secret nuclear weapons program. Is this real? Who is the informant? How can they get more from him? Compounding things is the desire of certain factions in the US government to use this information as a reason to attack Iran.

    The author is a columnist for a major newspaper who has been covering the Middle East for 25 years, and there is a strong sense of verisimilitude to his writing. The novel manages to evoke the feeling that Cold War era novels set in the Soviet Union did -- a sense of tension and dread from being in an unfamiliar, alien environment....more info
  • A fast-paced, enjoyable, easy read
    This spy novel is a great summer book for the beach or a rainy weekend. Fast-paced, good character development, a believable story line, and a plot-twist ending make for an enjoyable read. It's hard not to empathize with the main character, Harry Pappas, who has to deal with today's issues in the novel.

    The only blatant error by Ignatius in this tome is one that several of today's authors (such as Patterson) seem to commit: the insertion of personal bias into the prose as an un-needed emotional element. However, in Ignatius' instance this bias is mostly expected considering his own professional and personal leanings in a profession now mostly devoid of objectivity or ethics.

    Fortunately most forgiving readers have the ability to circumnavigate such imperfections, leaving this title a one-time good read, perhaps to be passed on to other beach house guests during a lazy summer of relaxation....more info