Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
This wonderful spy thriller features an operative in a secret British agency which deals with supernatural beasts and phenomena.
Our heroine, once known as Rook Myfanwy Thomas awakens in a park surrounded by dead people wearing latex gloves. She has no idea who she is or what could have happened to the people around her. In her coat pocket she finds an envelope with the first of many letters addressed "Dear You..."
The new Myfanwy is given a directive to get to a safe place that has been arranged for her where she will find more letters explaining her situation and giving her a choice of continuing Rook Thomas's life or making an escape to a new life.
Circumstances make it almost impossible not to continue on as Myfanwy, so the new Rook (a high level operative) carefully follows the advice in the letters.
With no memory of who she was or how to do her work she takes over Myfanwy's life and tries to find out who in the Chequy organization betrayed her and wiped her memory.
This is a fine mystery story, as we try to figure out who the traitors in the organization are, and what they might be trying to do using Myfanwy as a tool.
We learn who the "original" Myfanwy was and see the "new" Myfanwy grow in her confidence and her powers in ways the lost Myfanwy could not manage.
The writing is light and breezy, has plenty of humor, and yet it is a suspenseful read. The ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel, thank heavens.
Discussion Questions for the Rook:
If you knew you were going to lose your memory as Myfanwy has, what are the top five things you would want you to tell you?
Would you choose to live Myfanwy’s life or would you have taken the money and run?
Who was your suspect for Myfanwy’s attempted murderer? What made you suspect them?
Did the author play fair and leave enough clues for you to see who the second traitor was?
Do you think that the letters left behind by the “original” Myfanwy fill in background information, help propel the story forward, and flesh out the character and life of the real Myfanwy or do they break up the narrative?
As Myfanwy was investigating her potential murder/memory wipe she seemed to be changing, growing bolder, and using her abilities a bit more. Do you agree? Is the “new” more “take charge” Myfanwy an expected development?
Is the history of the Grafters believable? Would their “technology” be possible even as a result of some supernatural power?
Would you categorize The Rook as a mystery, a spy novel or science fiction?
Do the Rooks in the the Chequy operate within their organization as Rooks do in the game of chess? If not, why name the book “The Rook”?
The Americans operate their organization very differently, from day to day operations to how they recruit. Do you think they would be as effective as the uber efficient Chequy?