by Mike Bond
406 pages, Mandevilla Press
Review by J. S. Colley
This is a story of the Siege of Beirut during the Lebanon War. It’s a disheartening, yet thought-provoking, look at a religious war—about how utterly senseless and mystifying it is to onlookers.
The story is told through three points of view. These characters’ lives intersect in strange coincidences that are usually only believable if they happen in real life, but Bond makes it convincing. First, there’s Neill, a war correspondent from England sent on a mission for MI-5 because he is the ex-boyfriend of Layla, the now wife of Mohammed, who is a powerful and dangerous Hezbollah leader. Second is Andre, a French commando out to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of terrorists during the bombing of a US base.
Third is Rosa, a twenty-something Palestinian who sees no side but her own. Although Bond does a good job of keeping his personal political opinions from seeping into the story, I found Rosa the most disturbing, as she appears the most uncompromising in her ideology. Even if her leader, Mohammed, might seek an end to the war, she will have none of it.
On all sides, there seem to be those few who want peace, but their voices are drowned out by those calling for blood and more blood. But how do you stop the inculcation of youth to whatever side they happened to be born? This quote says it all:
“Calm down, brother! Tell us, what religion are you?”
The man … trying to gain time to decide if these men who had grabbed him out of the darkness were Christian or Muslim, Druze or Hezbollah, Sunni or Shiite, Maronite, Syrian, or Palestinian or Israeli.
“Answer right and I kiss you,” one of them said. “Answer wrong and you die.”
As always, a novel is as interesting as its characters, and the players in Holy War do not disappoint. Each character brings his/her own perspective to this baffling conflict.
This is a gripping, chilling novel about the futility of war—especially one based on differences of religion.
Thank you to NetGalley for the review copy.