Shadow Over Babylon

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When two prominent British businessmen are convinced that their government wants Saddam Hussein killed, the only question is who should be hired for the job. The head of an international security organization is offered sufficient compensation to undertake the task, and the operation is off and running. Such is, in outline form, the premise of great suspense novels of this or most other years.

Needless to say, given what’s at stake and the consequences of failure, considerable effort is expended by the author and his protagonists on the plan, the equipment, the personnel, and the act itself. But that’s only part of the story. Indeed, the escalating excitement which leads to the explosive moment wherein Saddam Hussein is brought under the rifle sights becomes quite unbearable as the assassination team attempts to withdraw from Iraq.

Unbeknown to them, and definitely not part of the plan, they are subject not only to the general suspicion accorded all Europeans in Iraq but also to the electronic scrutiny of an agency of the United States. Moreover, the American government proves quite willing to deal with those who would practice private diplomacy in the most direct manner. Central Intelligence Agency operatives, foreign governments, and cruise missiles are deployed and dispatched in pursuit of policy decisions previously arrived at by the government of the United States.

In the short list for works in this genre, SHADOW OVER BABYLON must be placed quite near the top. The author’s skills of description may not be of exceptional note, and his characters quite frequently smack more of cartoons than reality. Nevertheless, he tells a ripping good yarn, heartily recommended to those who are not averse to suspending a bit of disbelief in support of an entertaining diversion.