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Allure of Deceit

Allure of Deceit, February 2015
by Susan Froetschel

Prometheus Books
ISBN: 1616140178
EAN: 9781616140175
Kindle: B00MKZ0R10
Paperback / e-Book
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"Mountain villagers are suspicious of outside aid workers"

Fresh Fiction Review

Allure of Deceit
Susan Froetschel

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted August 10, 2015

Fiction

Is there a thrill to lying? Pretending or living an amoral life? There must be, or otherwise sensible adults would not have affairs or steal from their workplace. Explore the ALLURE OF DECEIT through this modern tale of aid work in Afghanistan and one woman who falls foul of an ancient culture.

Lydia Sendry runs a charitable foundation which disperses grants in the name of her late tech wizard son. Lydia is still determined to find out who ordered his untimely death. One request comes from a Texas aid group that teaches natural contraception methods and hopes to work with poor women in Afghanistan. Pearl Hanson agrees to try to find an Islamic group to partner with her as there is no point in funding work that won't gain acceptance. The Afghans also disapprove of orphanages.

The story flips to the village of Laashekoh where patriarch Parsaa lives a simple life, providing for his family from a farm and encouraging them to go to school, while silently worried about his failing sight. When a Texas aid- worker arrives by helicopter, distributing toys without asking first, Parsaa worried that she seems to want to take children away from communities who care for them, all relatives helping if their parents die. That's not the worst complaint he is going to hear about Pearl Hanson.

Land ownership, property transfers and arranged marriages are hot topics in an area where the Taliban turned the mountain dwellers' worlds upside down before being removed. Now, any outsiders are suspect. Aid workers are considered to earn good money from their grants while trying to impose differing traditions. A quote from the Koran reminds us to do good unto others; yet the doer of good is herself not trusted because she is foreign. There's also a hint of mining rare objects in these mountains. More than one motive for the visitors?

I like the little touches such as mynah birds trained to speak. But there is little light relief in a land where angry people wave rifles and loose shots to make their point. ALLURE OF DECEIT can be thought of as a thriller about culture clash, or unintended consequences, but Susan Froetschel's work is to me, more of a reflection on differences, understanding and forgiveness.

Learn more about Allure of Deceit

SUMMARY

A young inventor and his wife are killed in a terrorist attack—leaving behind a will that surprises friends and parents by directing a vast fortune toward charities in the developing world. On the ground in Afghanistan, international charities rapidly search for Afghan partners to compete for the attention of the new foundation, focusing their efforts on two particular women in the village of Laashekoh: a young mother who might have been wrongly imprisoned for her role in helping to run a child-trafficking ring; and an older, educated woman who has a reputation for providing reproductive healthcare—including abortions.

Meanwhile, most Laashekoh villagers do not want Western charity and are astounded to be regarded as potential recipients; they are self-sufficient and see no need for outside intervention in village concerns. But when a group of orphanage workers visiting the village goes missing, foul play is immediately suspected and the villagers face tough questions.

As Afghans and Westerners work to uncover the truth, the reputations of charity workers, potential beneficiaries, and locals in Laashekoh are called into question. The stakes are high, the sums of money are huge, and cultures clash. All these are motivations for fraud and murder in Allure of Deceit.


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