Khyber Pass

In the world of Khyber Pass, everyone has a secret. 

Part spy novel, part mystery, part political drama and part love story, it captures one of the most intriguing periods of history by telling the stories of a number of colorful characters from all over the world. Set amidst the political turmoil that defined the Cold War, Khyber Pass explores the best-kept secrets of the time through its characters who work for some of the most powerful organizations in the world. But like many influential people in history, no one is truly honest about who they are. Beneath their political motives are matters of the heart that drive them and make them human.

The story of reunited lovers Karen and Pierre evolves and changes as the air in Washington becomes thick with anti-Communist sentiment; the couple that will do anything to stay together becomes an object of scrutiny. General Bazar Khan is one of the most powerful men in Pakistan, but is powerless against the charms of the mysterious diplomat Manushka. When the lives of these couples collide, the fate of three countries hangs in the balance.

Named after the famous mountain road connecting Afghanistan and Pakistan that has been a point of political conflict for years, this aptly titled novel is full of politics, drama and intrigue. Like its namesake, it is  much more than it seems.

Read a review here.

Khyber Pass is an entertaining spy novel, alternating between international intrigue and personal dramas. As the action moves from Islamabad to Moscow to Washington, from venal generals to lonely, overworked White House staffers, readers are pulled into the story. A recurrent theme is the impact that one individual’s emotional needs can have on world events. For example, General Bezar’s egotism makes him a perfect target for Soviet manipulation, and nearly shifts the international balance of power. On the other hand, Karen’s low self-esteem exposes her—and the nation—to peril at the hands of a cold-hearted imposter.

In this novel, the reader is constantly reminded of how the world has changed in 25 years. For example, phone booths feature in the story (remember them?). Even stranger is recalling a time when Pakistan figured in American minds not as an unstable terrorist haven, but as a staunch American ally and bulwark against Soviet expansionism. Technology that seemed unimaginably advanced in 1988, such as satellite surveillance and translation software, is now available to every cell phone user. But some things never change. Corruption and intrigue in high places, the hypocritical gap between public image and private behavior, and the cynical exploitation of vulnerable people by hostile forces remain as prevalent as ever.