Thomas Baker, an accomplished non-fiction author, reviewed Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office on Amazon, giving it 5 stars. His comments included:
“Flashback: Wed, Aug 1, 2007, “Tough Talk on Pakistan” – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama: (quote) “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,” Obama said.” (end of quote) (Source: Reuters, by Steve Holland) These were prophetic words.
The above quote represents the frame of reference most readers will bring with them to the reading of this book. If we remind ourselves that we in fact do know a great deal about terrorism, from personal observation of the world we live in, then the book is easier to understand. Nonetheless, it requires close attention to detail. Do not approach the reading of this book in a frivolous manner, or you will find it distasteful. This is not a James Bond, Cold War spy-thriller (far from it).
As for the plot, the other reviewers have described it well, so I won’t go there. What I will say is this: language and culture are inseparable. To attempt to render in English, a story that is most decidedly non-English in origin, is a linguistic feat worthy of genuine admiration. Author Khalid Muhammad has met this difficult challenge and mastered it. He has told his story well.
I want to make one comment about story structure. Regardless of genre, all stories require three basic parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the beginning we meet the characters and find out what the problem is. In the middle the characters usually try several times to solve the problem, often failing miserably. In the end, we have closure. The problem is solved, and we are clear about the future. This is the classic “W” story structure, and our author has met our expectations in this respect.
In conclusion, this is a challenging, well-written book, reality-based despite its rightful claim to be fictional in nature. It is without a doubt a thought-provoking book, and will cause you to reflect on the issues raised by the reading of this book long after the reading is done. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy stories about spies, terrorism, and counter-terrorism. If that describes your reading tastes, you will definitely enjoy this book.“