Between Two Scorpions
Political columnist and journalist Jim Geraghty’s first novel was The Weed Agency, a fluffy tale of a fictional government agency that proved as enduring as its nominal targets. His second, Between Two Scorpions, is a far different beast. In it, a married couple of spooks travel around the world as they battle a decidedly unconventional terrorist threat.
Despite the very different genre I could see a lot of the same quirky strengths that brought The Weed Agency to life. Geraghty has a great sense of humor and it shows throughout the novel. The action is very good and the settings (including my personal favorite of Central Asia) are very novel. A big help is that the book isn’t as axe-grindingly partisan as one might fear one written by a conservative columnist would be.
The biggest issue I can pinpoint is a bit of thematic dissonance. Basically, the sincere, serious, and thought-provoking commentary on how a media culture can amplify hysteria is done well, but it doesn’t mesh the best with the witty globetrotting superspy adventure story. That being said, it’s not the worst offender in that regard I’ve read by far, it’s a forgivable lapse, and I can give Geraghty credit for trying to be topical in a way that’s more than superficial and still doing well.
There are a few other minor bumps, but it otherwise does well. Between Two Scorpions is a fun, solid novel that dares to stretch a little, and I recommend it.