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Lion of Babylon

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Davis Bunn

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 … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Davis Bunn
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Bethany House
1 review about Lion of Babylon

Not Exactly Thrilling And The Characters Are Little To Perfect--3.5 Stars

  • Aug 15, 2011
Rating:
+4
When three Americans and the son of a local, wealthy merchant go missing, neither the American or Iraqi governments are inclined to invest their disappearance. Friends of the missing Americans stationed in Iraq found their investigations quickly terminated. However, one of the missing Americans, assistant chief of security Alex Baird, had friends in high places and they made sure the four were not forgotten. Fired intelligence agent and close friend of Alex, Marc Royce, was asked by his former manager to go to Iraq to locate and rescue the four captives. Joining forces with an esteemed lawyer, whose specialty was locating kidnapped Iraqi children, Marc along with local police embark on a quest to uncover what both countries would prefer to remain hidden.

Reading Lion Of Babylon was much like playing an RPG. Lives are at stake, but instead the gamer spends three hours on side quests and farming for items before advancing the plot and saving lives. This book had the same type of feel. The reader is told it's a critical situation and lives are at stake, but nothing gets done to actually save those lives. By the time Marc starts working on actually rescuing his captured friend, it's very late in the story with the execution being incredibly anticlimactic and disappointingly simple. Not to mention, by the time it's revealed where their being held, apparently those that sent Marc to find them already knew. The book had a lot of buildup, but in the end very little substance.

I'm not exactly sure what type of feel Bunn was going for in this novel. There are moments when it feels somewhat cloak and dagger, stereotypical CIA/military. However, more often than not it's full disclosure. Retired or not, I can't imagine an intelligence agent willing and openly offering up his past both personal and professional. Marc seemed to trust everyone and while he's a likeable enough character and made lots of friends, I didn't find him particularly realistic. With so many of the supporting characters commenting on how great a guy he was, I got a little tired of hearing about him. He was always right, made no mistakes, was friends with everyone--he was too perfect to be true.

At every turn, the reader is told how dangerous the situation in Iraq is and how all the character's lives are in danger. I never felt like any one was in danger, which took away all suspense. By the time I had reached the mid-point in this book, I was quite certain that everyone was going to walk away with either minor injuries or totally unharmed. There was no doubt that whatever the characters set out to do was going to be a success. Throughout Lion Of Babylon, there are constant reminders of the danger in their location, but it's never shown because none of the characters are in an extended period of harm; most are in no danger at all. The book felt very sanitized and kept me from ever feeling strongly one way or the other about the events that were taking place.

There were some high points in this book. While it was a little too `pie in the sky' spiritually for my taste I did like the friendly Arab tone. Bunn was kind to Islam and nicely captured the Arab hospitality and genuine respect they have for their friends and family. This book also felt very well researched. I would not be surprised at all to find out Bunn had spent some time onsite researching and viewing the sites mentioned.

Lion Of Babylon is the first book I've read by Davis Bunn and while it was somewhat disappointing, I'll still give his books another try. This one would have been better if the characters had been a little less perfect and faced true obstacles. Then again, I'm a suspense junkie, so for readers that prefer less thrill, little conflict, and squeaky clean characters, this might be right up their alley.

Review title provided courtesy of Bethany House.

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