Two men: One discovers the cost of keeping secrets, of building a career within a government agency where secrets are the operational basis. Noel Leonard works for the Defense Intelligence Agency, mapping coordinates for military actions halfway around the world. One morning he learns that an error in his office is responsible for the bombing of a school in Pakistan. And he knows suddenly that he is as alone as he is wrong. From his windowless office in DC to an intelligence conference in Switzerland, and back to his daughter’s college in Virginia, Noel claws his way toward a more personally honest life in which he can tell his family everything every day.
Another man learns that family secrets have kept him from who he is and from the ineluctable ways he is attached to a world he has always disdained. This unnamed narrator, a cartographer, is the son of a career diplomat whose activities in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and then in Europe during the Cold War may not have been what they were said to be. He, too, travels to Switzerland, but his quest is not to release himself from secrecyit is to learn how deep the secrets in his own life go.
With a voice like John le Carré’s and the international sensibility of Graham Greene, Frederick Reuss examines the unavoidably covert nature of lives that make their circles through Washington, DC. A Geography of Secrets is a novel of the time from an acclaimed author who knows the lay of the land.
"As the diplomats in Graham Greene novels make clear, government middle-managers involved in life-and-death decisions suffer torments all their own, and Reuss has a gift for evoking the existential tensions that give Greene novels their intellectual heft. Reuss brings a few twists to that brand of anti-thriller, too. One's formal: The novel's braided structure alternates between Noel and an unnamed government cartographer investigating his late father's experience as a Foreign Service officer...Another twist is technological: Each chapter includes longitude and latitude coordinates that, keyed into Google Maps, locate the setting of each scene...Reuss is particularly skilled at describing the scrim of spook culture that coats the entire D.C. area, from Alger Hiss' old haunts to the anonymous research hubs littering the landscape, and he convincingly lays out the Heller-esque bureaucracies that seem engineered to squash dissent...Faced with a structure so dehumanizing, Reuss argues, it's no wonder we keep secrets--it's a hobby of sorts, a way of taking the business of being our more human selves elsewhere."--Washington City Paper "The strengths of A Geography of Secrets merit serious attention, as does Frederick Reuss. May Geography bring him, and his work, the accolades they deserve."--PopMatters.com "A Geography of Secrets is like a latter-day Graham Greene novel--intellectually satisfying, morally serious, and, just as important, compulsively readable." --Gary Krist, author of Extravagance and The White Cascade "A thoughtful examination of the value of keeping secrets...the descriptions of Noel's golf game are transcendental. An understated but masterly work for fans of cosmopolitan, contemplative, contemporary prose."--Library Journal