Susan Midalia's Review of Kevin Power’s novel A Line in the Sand
One of my most admired novels is Kevin Powers’ debut, The Yellow Birds, based on his harrowing experiences as an American soldier during the allied invasion of Iraq. His fourth book, A Line in the Sand, deals with the aftermath of the Iraqi war and is set in the USA.
Aman Bajalan, formerly an interpreter for the American army, is secretly sent to America after witnessing an atrocity committed by the mercenaries in Iraq. It soon becomes apparent that refugee Aman is a wanted man, narrowly escaping death. But Powers’ interest is not in ‘who done it’ – we find the answer relatively early in the plot and see the action from the point of view of both heroes and villains – but in the ethics of the police, journalists, business people, the mercenaries and government officials.
Most of all, the book is an indictment of war as a money-making enterprise; in the words of a real person, Major General Smedley D. Butler, which Powers uses to preface hi book: ‘War is a racket … possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious … It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.’
A Line in the Sand is also a marvellously gripping read: I stayed up until the early hours of the morning to see whether justice would ultimately prevail. The characters are complex, the settings engaging, the dialogue crackling with menace and unexpected humour. Highly recommended.
FROM THE AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF THE YELLOW BIRDS
'A stunning novel' New York Times
'A kickass mystery from a superb storyteller' David Baldacci, author of The 6:20 Man
'A spellbinding and totally original thriller' Philipp Meyer, author of The Son
An early morning on a beach in Virginia. As he is taking his daily swim, Arman Bajalan - formerly an interpreter in Iraq - discovers a dead body. After surviving an assassination attempt that killed his wife and child, Arman has been given lonely sanctuary in the US. Now, sure that the murder is connected to his past, he knows he's still not safe.
Seasoned detective Catherine Wheel and her fresh-off-the-beat partner have little to go on beyond a bus ticket in the man's pocket. It leads them to Sally Ewell, a local journalist as grief-stricken as Arman by the Iraq war, who is investigating a nefarious corporation: one on the cusp of landing a multi-billion-dollar government defence contract.
As victims mount around Arman, taking the team down wrong turns and towards startling evidence, they find themselves in a race, committed to unravelling the truth and keeping Arman alive - even if it costs them everything.
A Line in the Sand is a sinuous, powerful and white-knuckle thriller, from the award-winning author of The Yellow Birds, shot through with treachery, trauma and the long tentacles of war.
'A tense, twisting, and thoughtful story of the intersection between grief and greed' Michael Koryta, author of Never Far Away