The Strong Man is a novel of absurd inaction, where dealing in black market bacon takes on as much significance as an aerial bombardment. Briggs has a keen eye for detail, whether it’s a line of Douglas firs at Fort Lewis or the anachronistic scent of beer being brewed in a Saudi Arabian hospital. He isn’t afraid to write moral ambiguity. Wallace is neither hero nor villain — more than anything, he’s malleable and not too bright. As such, Briggs has created a character that reflects our uncertain, narcissistic, post-Cold War age.