Adam Lebor masterfully weaves an international espionage thriller around the war in the Congo, home to the precious mineral coltan used in computer and cell phone production. The main character, Yael Azoulay, works for the United Nations as a deal maker, negotiating deals never made public. Deals that would turn our stomachs.

As the story opens, Yael is negotiating with the Hutu warlord, Jean-Pierre Hakiziman, wanted for genocide. She is offering an incredibly generous plea bargain, which will stop the war and allow companies to get back to mining.

The warlord tells Yael, “You know they use children to mine coltan? They are small–they can fit into confined spaces. They eat less. They are paid almost nothing. Some food perhaps. They often have no parents. What does it matter what happens to such children? Nobody knows if they are alive or dead. Sometimes the tunnels collapse, and the children cannot get out. But as long as you can call your friends, Yael, who cares?”

Yael ultimately finds herself mired in the midst of a power play where the United Nations plans to sanction mass murder and she has become a target as well.

Adam Lebor has authored eight non-fiction books and two novels, which have been published in twelve languages. A journalist, he began his career working for a variety of London newspapers before he moved to Budapest to become a foreign correspondent. He now writes for the Economist, the Times (of London), Monocle, Travelers and reviews books for the New York Times and the Financial Times. Adam also teaches journalism at the Mathias Corvinus Collegium in Budapest.

I recommend this book. It is one of the best books I have read this year. The Geneva Option blends current international political issues with an entertaining story. The book made me think and question preconceived theories about the United Nations and the functions it serves. This is the first book in the Yael Azoulay series and I am looking forward to many more. Book clubs will find lots of issues to discuss in reading this book.

Five stars out of five.


In accordance with FTC guidelines for reviewers, I would like to clarify that this book was provided to me by the author free of charge.  I am not compensated by the author or publisher for my review.  All they expect is an honest review of the work.