I was excited to open my mailbox and find my first book for review last week! Bethany House Publishing sent me a copy of “Lion of Babylon” by Davis Bunn, and author I’ve enjoyed in the past. Following is my first official review!
Davis Bunn’s “Lion of Babylon”, set in modern day Iraq, is listed as a novel of suspense- as such, I’m not sure it meets the average reader’s expectation. The main character, Marc Royce, is a former intelligence agent called back into the field to unravel the mystery of his friend and former co-worker’s disappearance. His quest brings him into a fast-formed friendship with a number of Iraqis, particularly one Christian man who is involved in investigative work. As a contemporary novel, “Lion of Babylon” gives the reader an excellent sense of place; Bunn’s talent at evoking the smells and feel of a hot, crowded, war-torn city shines through in this book. The setting was believable and well portrayed, as I was able to clearly envision and feel the volatility of present-dayBaghdad.
Along these lines, I also felt that Bunn skillfully conveyed a simple overview of the religious and political divisions that have plaguedIraqfor centuries and persist today. A mild history lesson served up in a novel is something that I appreciate, as I like to think I will gain something from fiction beyond the pleasure of being entertained. Of course, Christian fiction also attempts to impart spiritual lessons and Bunn delivers on this point as his main characters in “Lion of Babylon” experience the power of faith in overcoming the cultural, linguistic, and racial barriers that often separate people.
Where the “Lion of Babylon” is somewhat disappointing is its general lack of believable suspense, particularly since it is classed as suspense genre. Unfortunately, I never strongly felt the tension that comes with uncertainty of outcome; rather, the points of conflict, particularly the conclusion, felt too easily- almost effortlessly- resolved. Another factor that contributed to the lack of suspense was that the hostages in need of rescue were not meaningful characters. The urgency of their situation never became real because they were not introduced or given a voice of their own. A final aspect that deprived the story of suspense was how quickly the bonds of unbreakable trust and camaraderie formed between the main characters- this despite the incredible brevity of their acquaintance and the language, cultural, or political differences that existed between them. As a fan of other works by Davis Bunn, “Lion of Babylon” disappointed me in these respects; however, it did not disappoint as a good, action-packed- and ultimately uplifting- read, one that kept me interested and engaged throughout. Most readers of Christian fiction will probably enjoy this book, and I would recommend it to someone who enjoys books that read a lot like every action movie you’ve ever seen- and still enjoyed.
I enjoyed a complimentary copy of this book for review, I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine!