This week’s not-a-book-review column is about a book recommended by one friend, written by another friend. Janice Cantore suggested I read Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn when we were talking about mainstream books that had characters in them with strong religious beliefs.
When she mentioned the title, I said, “Oh, I don’t like historical Biblical fiction.”
She said, “No, no, it’s set in the present day Middle East.”
I looked at her like I’d eaten something spoiled. “Ugh, no, Janice, that’s even worse.”
No, she said, it’s really good, it’s about a CIA agent and…
Seriously? I don’t read any of those kinds of things. I don’t like books about wars and hatred and people killing each other.
But when I was in the library, I saw that the book was there, so I checked it out. I figured I’d read the first chapter because I really liked Davis’ legal thrillers like The Great Divide. Then I’d thumb through the rest of the book in a few minutes to see what Janice meant about characters with deep religious views that integrated in a non-irritating way into the story.
I started the first chapter and mentally put my finger down my throat. CIA agents and special missions, ugh. I like movies like this, but not books, too much detail. The day the book was due back at the library, I picked it up one more time at lunch. By the end of lunch, I decided to renew it.
I’m sure part of the difference in reading that first chapter was not having a pre-conceived notion that I would hate it. But also, I gave myself enough time to get to know the main character. And he was a pretty interesting guy. Then he got into a couple of interesting situations. And met some more interesting people. And there weren’t tons of uninteresting-to-me details about political stuff and war stuff.
It was actually the second character, the Middle Eastern character, that got me hooked. He was a genuinely good man trying to help people and also protect his family while living in a time and place of war. Plus he was a Christian, which I found very intriguing. Of course, I know there are Christians in the Middle East. I know some of them are there to try to help people, some are converts in their own lifetimes, but this man was a multi-generational Christian Iraqi.
Because there were lots of relational elements with different kinds of people trying to work together, and similar kinds of people at odds with each other, plus lots of action without “boring” details, I ended up taking an afternoon off to finish the book. It was really good! I may have to reacquaint myself with all of Davis’ books that I haven’t read yet. 🙂
5 stars, Loved It!