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Extended Audio Sample The Contractor, by Charles Holdefer Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (19 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles Holdefer Narrator: Ray Porter Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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George Young is a devoted family man and a Gulf War veteran. After a hometown business venture flops, George accepts work overseas as a contracted civilian interrogator for the US government at Omega, a secret holding facility for suspected terrorists.

The work pays well, but his personal life is crumbling. His wife, with whom he is forbidden to talk about his work, is becoming more and more enamored of gin and tonic. Worse, during a “routine” interrogation, a detainee dies in George’s hands. Frightened and confused, the detainee repeatedly asks, “Who are you?” just before dying. These words echo throughout the novel and send George on a painful journey of self-interrogation and discovery. In order to defend his country and his family, must George betray his humanity?

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An impressive and moving portrayal of the secret detention and interrogation system from the perspective of an interrogator. By illustrating the systematic dehumanization of both prisoners and interrogators inherent in this system, the novel demands engagement by its readers in the most important moral dilemmas facing the United States in the ‘War on Terror.’”

    Margaret Satterthwaite, director of The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law 

  • “Holdefer is masterful in showing us how George Young slips with frightening ease into an environment where he is inflicting water torture on alleged evildoers. We are shown how easy it is to take the path of least resistance all the way to hell.”

    Free-Lance Star     

  • “A finely tuned character study of a man in personal crisis…Holdefer shows a polished touch with detail and dialogue. The rare humorous moment is dry and often tragic, and the interrogations are so vivid as to make the reader squeamish.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Portray[s] with excruciating, chilling effect the actions of men operating in extreme circumstances when the usual rules of war are absent. A short novel but powerful in its reach, this work…resounds with literary merit and bears the hallmarks of a thriller sure to fly off the shelf.”

    Library Journal

  • “By placing this familiar theme in a new (and very timely) setting, Holdefer gives us additional layers of emotional depth: George isn’t just trying to figure out who he is; he is trying to figure out what his country is, and whether he is a good guy or just another terrorist wearing a different suit of clothes. A compelling mix of thriller, psychodrama, and, yes, political commentary.”


  • “Stylish, fiercely funny and frightening.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by courtney | 11/29/2013

    " the humor is handled brilliantly in this book, i really loved a lot about it DESPITE the fact that i couldn't get all that excited or interested in the narrator. the pace of the book is great, and as i mentioned, the humor is effective... i wish i was more into tough guy fiction. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Barbara | 5/6/2011

    " Couldn't even get to the third page. Just not worth my time. Boring and not well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Earl | 8/13/2010

    " People who torture for a living should not be searching their souls. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Earl | 6/12/2010

    " People who torture for a living should not be searching their souls. "

  • > Show All
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About the Author
Author Charles Holdefer

Charles Holdefer’s two previous novels were well received satires: Apologies for Big Rod (1997) and Nice (2001). In The Contractor, he explores a totally new terrain. He lives in France and teaches in the English department of the University of Poitiers and, for the last nine summers, at the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Festival.