I finished reading Mission: Black List #1 and want to share some thoughts and quotes about Eric Maddox. I tried not to spoil too much but it's unavoidable.
**This post contains spoilers**
If you are one of the bad guys, you don’t want to meet the blue shirt interrogator. That would mean you were in serious trouble. “The blue shirt interrogator” was the nickname Maddox was known among the Iraqi insurgents. He explains why in the book:
“I later ﬁnd out that I gained a reputation in Tikrit for that shirt. Since I wore practically every day, it made me easy identiﬁable.”
The book is fascinating. We are in Eric’s mind 100% of the time. We are rooting for him not just because he’s one of “the good guys,” but also because of his personality, dedication and determination. Eric is not what you usually would expect of an army interrogator. He didn’t use violence to get the prisoner to talk. He used his brain. And he has a brilliant one.
“I never used violent or unethical means. I didn’t need to. I had developed my own methods that produced real results.”
Here’s how he describes his abilities as an interrogator:
“In some areas, I’m pretty inept. I’m not good at directions and frequently get lost as a result. I don’t handle tools very well, and couldn’t change a ﬂat tire to save my life. But as an interrogator, I have the ability to remember everything a prisoner tells me, place it where it belongs, and create a mental picture. When that picture is complete, no matter how long it may take, I can see the lines standing out in sharp contrast.”
Maddox tries at all times to understand how the prisoners think and what their motivations are:
“As far as I was concerned it was my responsibility to look at the war and the men who fought it as objectively as I could. I couldn’t afford to be motivated by real emotion.”
But at the end of the day, he’s still a soldier:
“The bottom line was that I’d signed up to be a warrior. Soldiers are happiest when they are ﬁghting. Rebuilding a country was a noble goal, but the real reason we were there was to destroy the enemy.”
The interactions between Eric and some of the characters like his fellow interrogator and friend Lee (especially towards the end), both his teams in Tikrit – Rich, Jack and Matt, but mostly Bam Bam and Kelly, the terps (interpreters), and some of the prisoners (Basim, Amir, Luay, Khudayr and Ibrahim) are a very important part of the book. Eric also talks about his deceased buddy Casey and uses a beautiful metaphor to describe his desire to honor the memory of his friend.
We plan to do some posts later where we’ll talk more about the other characters.
The book isn’t about tension all the time. There are some light funny moments, like the one near the end when Eric tries to run after the admiral but his gear starts to drop from his bags. When he ﬁnally catches up with him, this dialogue follows:
“Now tell me again what happened last night, Edward,” he said. “It’s Eric, sir.”
It’s a funny line in the book, but if they keep it in the movie it’ll be ten times funnier because of Rob’s character in Twilight.
I’d like to ﬁnish with two quotes that, to me, say a lot about the professional and the man Eric Maddox:
“I could probably serve the rest of my enlistment in the Army and go back to civilian life knowing that I tried my best. But how was I going to live with the realization that my best wasn’t good enough?”
The last one isn’t a part of the story, it’s in the acknowledgments:
“Most important of all are my two sons. I am sorry I missed so much of your lives since these wars began. You are my world and I will serve you now.”
What are your thoughts on Eric Maddox? Have you read the book? Let us know.
Special thanks to @Chrisska for editing.