In Bond’s (House of Jaguar, 2013, etc.) latest thriller, two men—one seeking information, the other vengeance—enter war-torn Beirut to find a Muslim who may be behind the bombing of a Marine compound.
Journalist Neill Dickson, an American who’s made his life in England, heads to Beirut to interview Mohammed, a Hezbollah terrorist. Neill is writing a report for an organization, which he presumes is MI6, that believes Mohammed may have hatched an explosive attack on Marines and French paratroopers. This assault also brought French commando André to Beirut; one of the men killed in the blast was his younger brother, Yves. Just getting into Lebanon is a challenge for both men since the country is besieged by civil war and different religious and political groups are engaged in perpetual combat. Finding Mohammed, who has eluded various factions for years, seems nearly impossible. The suspense-laden novel has a never-ending sense of impending doom, as ambushes happen at a moment’s notice, the skies rain shells, and mines are a constant threat. Even an injured Mohammed resting in a Christian hospital is in potential danger. The dual protagonists are laudable, not just for the missions they’ve undertaken, but for their emotional investments as well. But the book’s most remarkable character is Rosa, a Palestinian guerilla fiercely loyal to Palestine—and by extension Mohammed, who she believes will help drive Israelis out of Lebanon. Rosa is an endlessly fascinating instrument of violence: Her faux pregnant belly hides a cache of grenades (she’s delivering but not afraid to use them); she wears a nun’s habit to bypass soldiers before and after blowing up part of a building; and her nude body can be a distraction or seduction. She represents the story’s cogent theme of peace achieved through hostile means—summed up best when a nameless man, sifting through a structure’s rubble, tells Neill, “Ten years of war, fifty of peace.”
An unyielding tension leaves a lasting impression, though Rosa could easily carry her own series.