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Title: Montanamo
Author: Christopher Leibig
Rating: Must Read!
Publisher: Artnik Books
Web Page:
Reviewed by: Eric Jones

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  • I was first acquainted with the fiction juggernaut Christopher Leibig through his superb political roller-coaster ride �Saving Saddam�, which revolved around the high concept idea of a plot to indict one of Saddam Hussein�s body doubles in his place. Leibig�s new novel, �Montanamo�, takes that concept and multiplies it several times over. Each subplot is built solidly on top of further subplot, and the resulting story is so thick that it can be difficult to sort out at times. However, Leibig�s solid storytelling, accompanied by a much broader and more interesting cast of characters than �Saving Saddam� make �Montanamo� stand head and shoulders above its predecessor.

    The first of several plots in the novel is the central idea surrounding the small Montana town of Two Rivers, and the town government�s plans to allow Guantanamo Bay prisoners to be moved to the town�s new, and largely empty, prison. This puts Two Rivers on the national news scene, it also gets them out of several jams, mostly financial, but gets them into many more, mostly terrorist.

    What really sells Two Rivers� parade of problems is the book�s amazingly vivid cast. Heading up the cast is local lawyer Gabriel Lantagne who really plays strait to the larger insanity of his surrounding Montanans. Gabe is hired by the recklessly ambitious Mayor Phoenix Jamborsky to handle the legalities of such a controversial decision. Gabe serves mostly as a rational voice to supply the reader with information. The real stars of the show are Phoenix, who is Palin-like, but with a political brilliance that would give Carl Rove a run for his money, and the local town sheriff, Pasquali, who gives the town a rough edged intelligence that small town�s flatter themselves with.

    Together, Pasquali and Phoenix create an amazing dynamic; small town secrets vs. national political secrets. The clash also works as a mirror between small government and big government. But Leibig doesn�t concern himself so much with social commentary or covert political message. He�s interested in exploring the premise. Ahmed is another remarkable player in the �Montanamo� house of cards. His journey runs both parallel and on a collision course with Two Rivers� (yes, in fiction that�s possible).

    The list of subplots becomes so kinetically charged that it�s difficult not to turn pages as fast as you can read them. Leibig�s work feels a lot like the television show �24�, ripping its plot from the latest headlines and running with them. It�s more of a political drama than a thriller, even if there are murders and a terrorist plot. Much of the action seems to take place in dialogue between any number of characters but the pace is so fast, the dialogue so clean, and the characters so rich that it feels like a thriller. �Montanamo� is nothing short of a Christopher Leibig novel.

    Somebody give this man a contract and put this book on store shelves everywhere. These are the kind of books I like to see!

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