Summary from BN.com: Marc Royce works for the State Department on special assignments, most of them rather routine, until two CIA operatives go missing in Iraq—kidnapped by Taliban forces bent on generating chaos in the region. Two others also drop out of sight—a high-placed Iraqi civilian and an American woman providing humanitarian aid. Are the disappearances linked? Rumors circulate in a whirl of misinformation.
Marc must unravel the truth in a covert operation requiring utmost secrecy—from both the Americans and the insurgents. But even more secret than the undercover operation is the underground dialogue taking place between sworn enemies. Will the ultimate Reconciler between ancient enemies, current foes, and fanatical religious factions be heard?
I always get intrigued by books that take place in the Middle East and involve stories involving characters who are of the Islamic faith. This is especially interesting in books that are in the Christian fiction market. The authors have to write on a thin line regarding what their own personal beliefs are without being offensive to an entire religious group and culture. There have been some books where the author seems to completely condemn the other religion without knowing everything. Then there are others where the author has obviously done their research and is careful to not be bias and present things in an objective point of view. This book is one of those.
I would call this book extremely fast paced and action packed. It's a very intense and realistic storyline as the reader enters Iraq during its last few months of American occupation. Bunn's writing makes you feel as if you are in the country and feeling the heat from the temperature as well as the tensions of not knowing what is going to happen next. The scenes involving bombings and not knowing who has survived or been killed is especially tension-filled. I can only imagine the uncertainty people in that region face every day not knowing if they are going to go home alive at night.
Even though the book takes place in Iraq and religion from different sides are presented, for me it didn't feel to be the sole purpose of the book. There are Christians from western countries, Christians from Arab countries and Muslims. Each person has learned to live together with the other, perhaps not always in harmony but just respects the other way of life. I didn't feel as if anyone was being stereotyped or shown in a negative light in this story. The different culture is presented as something we need to learn more about. While characters do have Christian faith and there are some missionaries present, I never felt as if anyone was trying to cram their faith down anyone's throat, if they were not willing to listen.
While I enjoyed the book, I felt like the main focus of the story (finding the three missing people) seemed to play second fiddle to other events in the book. There was quite a bit of talk about them in the beginning and then later on at the end of the book. However for almost all of the middle section of the book, chapters would go by with no mention of the missing trio at all. It just felt a bit anticlimactic to me at times.
Overall, this was a enjoyable suspense read. There's no "bad guy" which is nice for a change. There's interesting and complex characters that really give you an insight to military, government, civilian and Iraqi life. Another winner from Bunn.
Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn is published by Bethany House (2011)
This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance