Monday, November 4, 2013

Strait of Hormuz: Review

Everyone has a friend who needs help occasionally. Marc Royce’s friend just happens to be Ambassador Walton, a very old friend and a top intelligence official.

It also just happens that Marc’s friend needs help with a very serious problem. The US was tracking a shipment from North Korea to Pakistan when nine containers on the shipment disappeared. US officials believe the containers are headed to Iran, with the missile parts that could increase Iran’s firing range to reach the US. Within a week, the containers will have time to reach Iran, and meanwhile, the US’s best solution is also the worst—to stop ships entering the Strait of Hormuz and search them for the containers. Doing so may stop the attack, or it may give Iran an excuse to declare war.

Marc’s role is to find a way out—specifically, he’s supposed to track the money and find out what really is going on. Unfortunately, his first search effort uncovers a booby-trap instead.

And then Kitra, the Israeli nurse Marc met in Rare Earth, walks onto the scene.

In the background, waits a shadowy, but intriguing, cast. There’s the wealthy backers who can send agents anywhere in the world or to any five-star hotel at a moment’s notice, as well as the underground house-church with members from enemy cultures and a mission to protect believers in hostile countries.

Bunn started the Lion of Babylon series in 2011, introducing freelance intelligence operative Marc Royce. The middle novel, Rare Earth (which I reviewed last summer), won this year’s 2013 Christie Award for Suspense Fiction. And now, Strait of Hormuz marks the end of the series.

Even as the last book in the series, Strait of Hormuz stands on its own, telling Marc’s latest adventure separate from his previous missions. As with Rare Earth, I would have no problem picking up the action from the first few pages. At the same time, this being the second book I’ve read from the series, I noticed more that Bunn doesn’t spend a lot of time on character-development. I was able to connect fairly well with Marc and Kitra, but part of that was from having met them before.

I’m not sure whether I would classify Strait of Hormuz as a slow-paced spy story or a fast-paced romance. It has elements of both—Bunn balances a race to save the world fairly well against Marc and Kitra’s struggle to understand their emotions and their relationship.

Bunn does well at both, but I found the background characters with their range of motives and backstories to be the best part of the story. They were also, in some way, easier for me to connect to than the story from Rare Earth. So, while Strait of Hormuz ranks 4 out of 5, I liked it better overall than Rare Earth, and I’m not sure I was ready for the series to end.

If Strait of Hormuz sounds interesting, you can read the first three chapters here, or check out…

The Grand Prize Sweepstakes:

To celebrate Strait of Hormuz's release, Davis Bunn is offering a Grand Prize giveaway—the winner will receive a grand prize of 'His & Hers' Luxury Swiss Watches, while a runner-up will receive a $150 Amazon Gift Card. You enter by following the link, and gain more entries by sharing the contest on Facebook and Twitter:
The winner will be announced November 30, on Bunn's blog.

Until then, you can find out more about Bunn and his writing through his blog or his Facebook page. And remember that the first book in the series, Lion of Babylon, is available for Kindle free during November.
[My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a free review copy of Strait of Hormuz, in exchange for my honest opinion of the book.] 

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