My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Has to be one of my all time favs and for more than just one reason. First, the story is completely original. Instead of depending more on paper thin Shia and Sunni bad guys, Davis Bunn creates a menagerie bad guys and misguided Americans. Second, the action tugs at you for a good reason. Instead of forcing you to read your way through a set of violent events, Bunn is asking/demanding that you cheer for Marc Royce and Sameh el-Jacobi to succeed. Third, both of the good guys are in it as a self-sacrificing act. Neither wishes to gain from a new Iraq or manipulate the American occupation force.
Royce and Sameh are wanting to save innocent people and as a result the possible future of Iraqi governance. Finally, hope for a better Middle East is the center-point of the action, not regime change or pro-Israel/anti-Muslim ramblings. This book wishes to see a self-sustaining pro-active and strong democracy begin to heal the wounds of the past millennia.
In the end, Bunn has created what has to be the first selfless spy novel. No dark agendas of New World Order or vengence but simply a man, Marc Royce, trying to find his missing friend, an operative attached to the Green Zone in Baghdad. As a result, God has set him on a course that leads him straight to Sameh el-Jacobi, the last honest lawyer in Baghdad. These two men, in course of a week, save the lives of over 40 children, divert a bombing, save the life of a future the Grand Imam of Iraq, and foil an Iranian plot to arm Shia radicals in Iraq with missiles. Not bad for a Christian lawyer in a Muslim country and an ex-CIA field operative now turned widower. Davis Bunn has redefined what a spy novel should become, selfless adoration for the possibility of true peace.