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Lieutenant Colonel Mike Beck, a civilian trial lawyer and Marine Reservist, finds himself in the middle of the Battle of Fallujah charged with investigating a potentially volatile war crime. Beck is willing to risk anything and anyone to get the facts. He steals key evidence from Anne Merrill—an embedded news reporter—disregards direct orders, and fights with his fellow Marines. In the end, Lt. Col Beck and Anne Merrill join forces, battle their way into the center of Fallujah, and discover the truth about the criminals—and themselves.
Every now and again I read a good military book. Some of them I get entranced by and enjoy from beginning to end. Just like I’m a sucker for a good military movie, I am a sucker for a good military book. I had a lot of high hopes for this book because I can actually remember the events that this book kind of take place around. My husband and father-in-law are both active duty army so I remember hearing a lot about Fallujah at the time.
So to kind of start off the book seems to have a slow pace, particularly in the beginning. There is a lot of build up and explanation about what everyone was doing prior to the events in Fallujah. Which is fine. I like a good backstory. This backstory though, in my opinion, could have been done in half the pages while still accomplishing its point, plus the pace would have picked up a lot more.
Another big issue for me was the the POV jumps around a lot. Like too much. I like having more than one POV, but when you start getting into having three or more, I need the length of time spent in that POV to be a bit longer. The problem, at least for me, is that the book starts to feel like it is jumping around an awful lot and it kind of starts to break apart the rhythm I get into with the characters.
Now that being said, I thought the book was pretty decent. The author either had some first hand knowledge of being in a war zone and how the military works, or he did a pretty good job with researching. Either way it all came off as decently authentic to me. I have to say he was also pretty good at giving descriptions of people, especially the Marines (particularly the one Marine who looked like he belonged on a Marine merchandise poster). Overall, the prose was pretty good, and very clear.
As for the characters, I liked both Anne and Beck. Anne is for the most part really clear on what she wants. And once she decides on what she wants, she just goes for, doesn’t stop until she gets it. She has a good moral center too, which I like. I have to admit in the beginning when she was bouncing around the firefight, I kept thinking to myself that she’s going to get herself killed, and then I also found myself thinking she isn’t doing these Marines a whole lot of favors since they have to keep watch on her and she won’t follow any direction at all. But then again, she was doing her job, so I can understand where the character is coming from. Beck as a lawyer, well he’s a pretty good one, he has some traits that aren’t 100% my favorite, but he is a flawed person just like everyone else in the world. And he works really well within the confines of the book.
The characters I couldn’t stand reading were the young Iraqi boys. I thought it was really interesting that the author was going to put in POVs from both sides of the aisle, and I was pretty excited to see how this played out, but ultimately I didn’t like it all. Honestly, the writing for the boys seemed more juvenile than anything else, and did not in any way pull me into the story like the other characters did.
Overall, I liked the book for the most part. I think anyone who has an interest in military oriented books would probably enjoy reading this book. For me, the POV issues and pacing were hard for me to overlook, so I give this book a solid three stars.