Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn isn’t the type of book I usually go for: action, adventure, intrigue, espionage, etc. But I picked it up as a possible present for someone whom I thought might like it. Wow. It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat at times.
Marc Royce is a former operative for State department Intelligence who was dismissed when he needed time to care for his ailing wife. Now suddenly his former boss calls him to for a special mission: his friend Alex is missing in Iraq along with an American woman he is rumored to have eloped with. Marc knows Alex has not eloped and agrees to travel to Baghdad to covertly search for him. He finds that both Americans and Iraqis officially know nothing but unofficially try to squelch his search.
He teams up with a Christian Iraqi lawyer to continue gathering information, and gets drawn into helping him recover some kidnapped children. They find that the kidnappings seem to be related to the missing Alex, two American women, and an Iraqi man. Unexpected allies and unexpected grace helps them navigate through the volatile politics and dangerous hindrances to finding those who are missing.
I have to admit that even with the American action in Iraq over the past several years, I have not really paid much attention to the region itself. Bunn’s descriptions of the different factions were enough to help understand but not enough to be tedious. His descriptions of the desert, dust, and heat almost made me feel like I was there. Sometimes the point of view was Marc’s and sometimes it was that of the Christian Iraqi, Sameh, and it was eye-opening to see what living for Christ would be like in that land. All in all a very good read.
Here is a trailer for the book:
(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)