Jihadi: A Love Story – Yusuf Toropov

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Jihadi: A Love Story by Yusuf Toropov

 The Last Word Review

There are times when you come across a novel that really takes your breath away and Jihadi: A Love Story by Yusuf Toropov is one such book. Many will look at the title and may be confused by the title. Do not be deterred. Read on!

This is a novel that starts slowly and gathers pace and hits the reader like an express train. Persist with this and it delivers on all fronts and the writing from Toropov is nothing short of exceptional.

The story is written and presented as a memoir of the former CIA agent Ali Liddell who has been incarnated in a secret prison overseas and has been accused of turning to terrorism and his words are being read by his brilliant psychologist.

What this memoir contains are details of his conversion to Islam but the psychologist is making her notes against those written by Liddell, as your read through you start to ask questions and just who are you believing. Just how Toropov has managed to create this outstanding and beautifully crafted debut novel left me breathless. This is writing of an experienced author with many books behind him. I found my pulse rate quickening as you got deeper in the novel.


The one important aspect of this story is how the author has created each of the characters and how every reader interoperates each of them, relationships are built with each of them. Is this how Toropov wanted the reader to become involved with the novel? Liddell’s story is one that one that makes the novel very absorbing to the reader. The psychologist Firestone is an interesting character and how she changes from the consummate professional to one that is somewhat unstable as she annotates Liddell’s words.

The story moves between the US and Iraq and the stories of the characters we meet in both countries leads to us to ask so many questions about how we view other cultures and religions through the media and the spin of propaganda.

Jihadi: A Love Story is very much a book of our time and is relevant to the world we all live in and although this can be a painful read there is some black humour that comes out of the story. It is also a book that once you have read it does cry out for you to stop and think about what is happening in ‘our’ world despite the fact we feel that there are times that we cannot influence those that make the decisions for what they deem as the greater good.

I won’t give away the detailed storyline as this will ruin it for any reader about to read it but there is much to take in about the character that is the CIA agent Liddell and his life.

This is a thumping good read and a five-star thriller and one very special debut novel that gives so much to the reader but also one not to be taken lightly.

Jihadi: A Love Story by Yusuf Toropov was released on 15 February and is published by Orenda Books and is available through all good bookshops.

Thank you to Karen at Orenda Books for a review copy.