I picked this hefty (almost 500 pages) book up and was immediately engaged. The three intertwined story lines held my interest throughout, and when I thought I’d worked out how it would all end, I found myself racing ever faster through the pages...
Looking at the notes I scribbled down as I was reading, words such as gripping, truthful, shocking and brutal abounded.
What a let down! All three story lines petered out in a completely unsatisfactory, lacklustre and largely unbelievable fashion.
Briefly, the three story lines are:-
The Al-Douri family are escaping Mosul. They are Christians and fearing for their lives as ISIL look to lose Mosul to the approaching coalition forces, they decide to flee to Europe and to the UK in particular. Their journey is hard, disheartening, expensive, and not all will make it. But they do get the odd spot of good luck.
Karl an ISIL commander residing in Mosul, trying to hold back the approaching coalition forces, is facing demons of his own. Turning down an offer to lead the ISIL forces he now has to face the incompetence of the man who did take the job. Struggling with resources, Karl faces many daily uphill battles.
Ibrahim, living in Germany wanting to avenge his father’s death in Mosul, plots a deadly revenge that goes badly wrong, but manages to bring him to the attention of the authorities. Licking his wounds and learning from his past mistakes he decides to try again to wreak havoc on Europe. He is pursued across Europe by a German intelligence officer who fears what Ibrahim intends, but lacks the proof and struggles to convince others of the seriousness of the situation.
The characters are credible and well rounded; the author has obviously researched how many things are done on the seedier side of life and has brought this research into his writing. Although a work of fiction, I felt I did learn a few things, especially about people trafficking and smuggling. I found myself warming to the characters and even though they maybe had evil intentions, I wanted to see them succeed: that is good characterisation and an indication of the level of skill and ability that the author has.
I was going to run to 4 ½ anchors on this book, but after the ending I’m sorry to say I can only run to 3.
As my copy of the book is a pre-launch edition, if the publisher or author reads this review, please, please, please, take another look at the ending. This book could be (and should be) so much more.