Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The American Mission” as Want to Read:
The American Mission
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The American Mission

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  388 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Global headlines come to life as intrigue and international politics collide in the Congo in this electrifying debut thriller from Matthew Palmer.
After a devastating experience in Darfur strips Alex Baines, former rising star of the State Department, of his security clearances, he is faced with two choices: spend the rest of his career in visa-stamping limbo or move to the priv
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published June 26th 2014 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The American Mission, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The American Mission

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  388 ratings  ·  71 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Kathleen (QueenKatieMae)
The beginning chapter of The American Mission begins with a deadly raid on a refugee camp in the Sudan. American Foreign Service Officer (FSO) Alex Baines escapes, but the fallout ruins his career and changes his life. An ambassador in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and lifelong friend, calls Alex asking for his talents as a FSO that promises career redemption. Alex knows and loves the DRC having spent time there in the Peace Corp.

The DRC Alex remembers has changed greatly since h
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Matthew Palmer's debut novel felt like two stories in one - the beginning was a slow building political thriller, the final third a fast paced action saga. I disagree with other reviewers who felt the book was "perfect for eighth graders" but I mean, it's a political thriller in paperback - it's perfect for the beach, plane, etc - it's not meant for deep discussions in political salons. While it is true that the "bad guys" are cardboard cutouts of all political espionage bad guys - is that reall ...more
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you have read anything about the history of the Congo (such as the horrific but excellent and unforgettable account by Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost), you know that this region’s sad legacy of violence and exploitation is a reflection both of its holdings of a wealth of natural resources desired by the so-called civilized world, and the greed that characterizes many in that world. By setting this thriller in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Palmer manages to educate readers about ...more
Edward Gregory Jones
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Ok first effort. The level of detail is exhausting. I learned a lot about the Congo and state department operations in Africa and mining as well. I don't need 4 lines to tell me how a satellite phone call works. But the novel has no suspense. It just travels along at the same pace. Overall disappointing.
Darcie Morin
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book is amazing!! There's no other way to describe it. The moment you meet Alex Baines you want to know what is going to happen with him and his daughter. You want to know what is going to happen in his career. This is my first attempt at a politically based novel and going into it knowing nothing about politics or state department type work, I learned a lot and thought the book was engaging and very hard to put down from the very beginning pages!
May 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this uncorrected proof as a Firstread a few days ago. The thriller espionage genre was one of my first favourite genres and so I was very much looking forward to sinking my teeth in.

This is Palmer's first book and for a first time author to tackle such a convoluted setting that is incredibly foreign to most westerners (and thus runs the risk of losing a sizable chunk of his potential audience)is admirable. It certainly helps that the subject matter is second nature to Palm
Jul 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Although I enjoy a good thriller, I find most contemporary ones I pick up either completely generic, or wandering too far off the deep end of reality. (For a frame of reference, I think my all time favorite thriller is still The Day of the Jackal). I picked this up because it revolves around a career US Foreign Service officer in Africa -- and I grew up in a Foreign Service family.

The book opens with a prologue set in Darfur, where the hero is the American rep on the ground who can o
R J Mckay
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book presents the reader with an interwoven combination of political intrigue, African history, and social awareness. Any of these would have held my interest, but the combination is astounding. Matthew Palmer creates a terrifying image of a corrupt State Department and the lengths it will go to control a third world country. His description of the conditions of the villagers is in stark contrast to those people who live in the bigger cities. But despite the lack of amenities, the uplifting ...more
Vicki Elia
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Audiobook Review
4 1/2 Stars

Alex Baines is a US State Dept. employee who's career is flagging. After a devastating esperience in Darfur, Alex is stuck in a dead-end clerical job and is considering leaving State for corporate work. He receives a call from a long-time mentor to come to the Congo (DRC). Alex jumps at the chance, not knowing that what he is jumping into is a river infested with political crocodiles. The corporate and US entities are not what they seem.

Barry H. Wiley
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
The novel is a diplomatic thriller set in the Congo. Matthew Palmer has been a Foreign Service Officer for 20 years and conveys the inside-the-embassy world with great reality. The first half of the book is a solid read, but then there are plot issues which unfortunately begin to clearly telegraph the ending. I kept waiting for the twist that would prove me wrong, but it never came. The first half is 5-stsr, the last half is 3-star. He has a four book deal, so Palmer, whose father and brother al ...more
Dec 16, 2014 rated it liked it
The novel's core concept is strong and the value of a thriller written from this perspective on this topic is illuminating. That said, several moments fall in line just as seen and read dozens of times before.

The American Mission is worth suspending disbelief for, but when you look back at its trail from cover to cover, disbelief, or something like it, taps you on the shoulder with a smile to say I told you so.

I'm looking forward to the sequel and trusting that Matthew Palmer has new/>The
Dan Leblanc
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Matthew Palmer's debut release of this fantastic thriller about the smelting operations in the Congo is really a work of art that's going to be hard too outdo. This intriguing novel, is a fast paced story of international corruption involving the U.S. Embassy joining forces with American affiliated mining companies that are trying too disable the Congo smelting operations, so they can take over these smelting mines very cheaply. Great read, had a hard time putting it down, can't wait till Matthe ...more
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Am half way through this novel and it gets better with each page. The Congo in its beauty and its tragic and conflicted present is depicted through the experiences of a foreign service employee whose personal life gives the story its heart.
I have finished this novel and find it very satisfying. Thank you, Mr. Palmer, for helping me to see the situations we are in more clearly.
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was gripping and smart from the first page. Great plot and believable characters, not least of which was the Congo herself. A very good novel first or otherwise. I will disclaim that it was written by an old friend but while I might not have picked it up if it wasn't I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Bravo, Matt!
Jean Benedict
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book.The story kept me reading as the plot was great.Alex was a great character.The background was very authentic. I had a hard time putting this book down as the suspense kept me wanting to find out what happens next.I won this book from First Reads. I hope to see more books from this author.This is a book that I will be passing on to my son-in-law.
Janet Brower
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An awesome political thriller set in Congo. Many parts ring very true regarding the role international companies and foreign governments, including our own play in the constant conflicts and brutality inflicted upon Africa and it's people.
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
American Mission is your basic predictable, somewhat hokey, genre blinder; action, mystery, thriller, boy done wrong, but gets the girl, romance, feel good story. (2.5 at best )It does have the redeeming quality of a peek into the plight of much of Africa and it's people.
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Likely a 2014 favorite read. Palmer's plot is fast paced and meaty, weaving mining, diplomacy, K&R, the US Foreign Service, and the politics of developing countries like the DRC into an engrossing and entertaining novel. Half way through, I added Palmer's next book to my to-read list.
Rebecca Engebretson
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't read enough spy novels to compare this book to others, but I gave it 5 stars because I found it enjoyable to read. The setting in the Congo was interesting and enlightening. Parts of the action chapters seemed unlikely. Even so, is a great summer read.
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A mining company that wants to develop the resources of Kinshasa for profit. A Political Advisor whose security clearance has just been reinstated. A young engineer and geologist would like to have these resources for her village. Alex Baines becomes the Political Counselor in a highly Kinshasa working in the American Embassy. One of his major jobs is to help free several American hostages from the hands of a man calling himself “The Hammer of God.” But, first he has to decide which side he’s on ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-read-fiction
No, "The American Mission" is not a shoot-em-up thriller in the tradition of Tom Clancy. There are some action scenes in the book, but they are spaced out and relatively sparse. It's more espionage and political thriller, with an attempt to fit in some interesting ideas about the tragedy of some African nations that are resource-rich and government-poor (or -corrupt).

But it's nice to see a geopolitical thriller based in Africa, which should be a rich field for those sorts of stories
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Palmer’s first novel offers an insider’s look at the world of American diplomats stationed in foreign countries. He lived the role for 20 years, so Palmer knows the subject cold. His brother, Daniel, and his late father, Michael, are both accomplished thriller writers, so an ability to write crime fiction clearly runs in the family. Alex Baines works in the U.S. State Department, but he is helpless to intervene when a massacre occurs in Darfur in 2006. Years later, his career in shambles, an opp ...more
Lee Yun
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A excellent piece of work and the first I've read that depicts exclusively the work of a Foreign Service Officer. A good thriller that seamlessly transits from defeating a large mining conglomerate to a revolution, Matthew Palmer has done an excellent job that raises one very pertinent geo-political question of today's world - does the advancement of one a developed country's foreign policy and interests necessarily come at a cost of those less developed one's?
Phil Redman
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well paced, interesting story based on real issues happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The author uses real-life knowledge of State Department progress and procedures, to build an exciting story that integrates US business abroad, imperialism, diplomacy and leftist-leaning agenda, but isn't bogged down by it. Very well written, an exciting story with believable, and diverse characters and action that will keep you page turning until the end.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you think you know embassy life, this is for you. Excellent story of corruption and drama in the heart of Africa
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very cool
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Good story with a heart and a message.
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
"The American Mission" by Matthew Palmer which I won from Goodreads Giveaways is a fascinating thriller that begins in Darfur when Alex Baines is shattered by the senseless slaughter of Zaghawa refugees in Camp Riad when American forces could have intervened. Traumatized by the experience, his security clearances revoked, Alex has been relegated to a dead-end job; his own only redemption, his adopted daughter Anah, the child he saved from the massacre.

On the verge of accepting a job with Centr
Mar 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
The plot was interesting but the characters were too one-dimensional to enjoy.
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Every so often, a book comes along that you can't put down very easily. It doesn't have to be the most mind-blowing plot, or crazy adventure, but everything in it just works together correctly. I was lucky to get and advanced readers copy of The American Mission by Matthew Palmer. I really enjoy this genre of books and am always looking for new authors and novels. The American Mission is one of those books that you can't put down until the end. It has some flaws, but all in all, I really enjoyed ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ashes to Water
  • Final Target (Graham Gage #1)
  • Prague Noir
  • Asylum City
  • Sleep No More
  • Mirror Image (Daniel Rinaldi #1)
  • A Surgeon in the Village: An American Doctor Teaches Brain Surgery in Africa
  • Sentinels of Fire (World War II Navy, #3)
  • Unnatural Fire (Countess Ashby de La Zouche, #1)
  • The Hustle: One Team and Ten Lives in Black and White
  • Suitcase City
  • Amnesia
  • The Bank of Fear
  • Nine Lives: My time as the West's top spy inside al-Qaeda
  • Sting of the Drone (Ray Bowman, #1)
  • Signature Kill (Frank Behr #4)
  • Du
  • Too Bad to Die
See similar books…
Matthew Palmer is a twenty-five-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, currently serving as the director for multilateral affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Asian and Pacific Affairs. Palmer has worked as a diplomat all over the world, but his ties to the Balkans are especially deep. In addition to a serving as the desk officer for rump ...more
“Never underestimate a man who is defending his home.” 1 likes
“Too many of our fathers and brothers, our friends and neighbors, have died defending their homes and families. Their spirits have gone to the next world, from where I am sure they will do everything in their power to keep us from harm. we honor their sacrifice by living. We honor our ancestors by surviving and prospering and remembering their names and their lives and what they surrendered in our defense. This is our burden and we embrace it joyfully, for we are all one people.” 0 likes
More quotes…