Monday, 25 September 2006

Allah's Fire by Chuck Holton and Gayle Roper

4 stars

ALLAH’S FIRE transports you to Panama City, Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, and Beirut, Lebanon – all in the first three chapters! This military suspense novel has something for everyone. Non-fiction author and first time novelist, Chuck Holton teams with prolific author, Gayle Roper to write an enthralling story of an Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit (headed by Master Sergeant John Cooper) which travels the globe defusing explosives used in warfare.
In the first of a three-book series, John Cooper's EOD team is sent to Beirut after tragedy strikes their unit in the form of an unknown and deadly explosive device, following an otherwise successful mission. A suicide bomber devastates a hotel in the heart of Beirut utilising the same device and a new terrorist organisation, Ansar Inshallah, is implicated. At a function at the hotel with her Arabic husband, American Julie Assan disappears and her journalist sister, Liz Fairchild begins her own mission to locate her sister.
Familiar with Beirut having spent her childhood there, Liz is on assignment, investigating the condition of Palestinian women in the Sainiq Refugee Camp on the outskirts of Beirut. With her sister's disappearance she returns to the camp in search of clues, and instead finds death and terror. The storylines converge and John and Liz clash over his need to maintain the tenuous military and political stability in Lebanon, and Liz’s desire to launch a rescue mission for Julie in the hope she is still alive.
While initially the writing style is erratic as the location and characters change with each chapter, once that distraction is overcome readers can settle in and enjoy this intense and exciting ride. The military and weapons information is detailed and authentic, with Chuck Holton previously serving as an Airbourne Ranger for the United States Army and flying helicopters for the National Guard prior to commencing his writing career. The relationship between John and Liz is well developed, yet does not overpower the suspense and action of the story.
The remaining books will be written solely by Chuck Holton and the first sequel, to be released early in 2007, will revolve around Staff Sergeant "Rip" Rubio, a member of John's EOD team.


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