Few books I read are thrillers, but Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn took my breath away. Set in war-torn Iraq, the hero Marc Royce is called out of forced retirement from his position for the State Department to rescue his best friend Alex Baird who has vanished, along with three women and a handful of children. Marc must transport into Iraq, uncover the whereabouts of the missing, and escape not only with his life, but the lives of those he has come to save. What transpires is a journey laced with intrigue, danger, and heart warming loyalty.
What gives the story such a unique flavor is Bunn’s personal knowledge of the Middle East. Before he began writing, Bunn worked in the international community and traveled extensively for his job. Reading this novel I felt as if I were in the middle of the desert with the hero, watching alongside him for clues to uncover the missing man’s whereabouts. I felt the heat, the sand, the explosions of gunfire. That point of view only comes when the writer intimately knows his setting.
Bunn also sheds light on the mix of faiths in the region and spotlights why there is continuing unrest among the Sunni, Shia, and Christians. Tastefully explored, Bunn leaves the reader with hope that one day the conflict between the religious sects may be resolved. But he doesn’t tiptoe around the topic and the clashes between devout Muslims and faithful Christians are painfully real. I found myself holding my breath in many scenes where lives were at stake because of a personal belief.
With Father’s Day not far in the future, I would recommend this work for men as well as women. Many of the books I read are written by women, with a female protagonist and point of view. Not so, this book. The protagonist is male, the writer is male, and the story has a decidedly male strength to it. But whether you are male or female, the tale is one you won’t want to put down.