The Interrogator’s Notebook -the title in itself drew me from the letter T. As many people, I too am just human and fickle when it comes to matters that rise suspicion and clarity. I mean what human out there would deny their eagerness to know things? Who out there wouldn't want to know how to pull information from others, who wouldn't want to know how to react or avoid when in question? Suffice it to say it just the title, The Interrogator’s Notebook, that chained me from the word go.
Martin Ott starts his novel off with a lesson, “Mapping the Body.” From a bird’s eye view one’s first impression is that the novel will be some kind of an autobiography or maybe even a documentary on the way the body and mind works. Sitting here, maybe, that’s exactly why I was intrigued in the first instance.
Surprisingly, Martin’s first words instantly change your perception. He starts it with, “In the beginning, there was not god. There were men who questioned the nature of the universe,” And there it was: I was intrigued.
The Interrogator’s Notebook’s is a psychological thriller based on the life of Norman Kross – a career interrogator who works in some of the most dangerous locations throughout the world. What makes the thriller all the more appealing is the fact that Martin hasn’t branched on about his protagonist’s worldly adventures, which in itself could be as adventurous. Instead he created an exciting thriller that points back to Norman himself, his struggles within his own marriage, his family.
I had the honour of interviewing Martin a while back and wanted to know how close he was to this main character Norman Kross. I questioned how interlinked his own story was with that of his protagonist. His answer seemed diplomatic yet insightful when he noted that he feels all authors dip into their own well of experience; he confirmed that he did use some detail from his own life but that Norman’s life was vastly different from his own.
What I liked:
Martin Ott has a way with words. I loved the way he describes things from every day locations to tables and chairs, boots and paper. He has this novel way of depicting things that puts you right there at the edge, in the story with his character.
I am intrigued by the way he allows his readers to experience the deterioration of his protagonist. We see so many stories about hero’s that are unaltered, unaffected - un-deranged. Martin allowed his character to have flaws, which is risky but it made the storyline that much more gripping. His family life was to say the least really chaotic, far from normal, -colourful.
I found Martin’s descriptions on his characters, especially his villain and his surroundings, masterful. In fact all I wanted to know was what George Stark was up to next, which character he was going to express, how close Norman will get to resolving the murder.
Having said this, this specific point also created a small dislike.
The name Stark constantly pulled me out of the story to compare George Stark back to the familiar figure of Robert Downy Jr. Even though I thought the character lay out to be masterful, I did constantly compare this particular villain to Stark meets Sherlock Holmes both done brilliantly by Robert D. I don’t know whether this was intentional or deliberate but yes-- If this novel had to go to film I would struggle to see any other character other than Robert portraying the role successfully.
All in all, I can say that this was one of the best novels’ I have read this year.