Duty to Investigate. J. W. Stone. Warriors Publishing Group. June 2013. 280 pp. pbk and eBook. ISBN #: 9780985338879.
War isn’t pretty and this novel is the epitome of its brutality and misunderstandings that just escalate into more violence and disputes. It’s also about survivors, those who survive battle, those who survive the hate of the Iraqi people, those who survive by turning into thieves and murderers, and those who are so sick that they actually enjoy the battles and torture. And then there are those who are revered because they face formidable obstacles and manage to maintain honor, integrity, and compassion – but who said it’s easy to maintain that stance?
J. W. Stone has written a very fine, realistic novel about the Battle of Fallujah. Captain Michael Beck is a former civilian lawyer now serving in a legal capacity in Iraq. Before the attack a female photographer, Anne Merrill, is determined to capture the entire battle which gets a lot of officers angry because she seem to ignore the very real risks of an actual attack. Things get worse between Beck and Merrill after she walks into a room and starts snapping pictures of dead Iraqi bodies and a soldier standing with his gun aimed toward them. They don’t realize one of the bodies isn’t dead and he will much later be the key witness who makes all the difference in the world. It’s obvious that the ramifications of a soldier gone berserk with killing would have on the Iraqi people and then on the American military. The rules are super strict for a reason, to prevent this disaster in the making. Now Beck and others will be challenged to stretch the rules to cover up this living nightmare!
To tell more would be to spoil a fascinating (hate to use the word in this context but it is) examination of the Iraqi thug who forces other Iraqi citizens to carry out his torture and death squad activities. Here he hopes to set up a scene that will force the Americans to leave for good. It’s not that he hates Americans for their help; he just wants total control of the devastating conditions for his own self-interest and material gain. Religious motivation is just a cover here!
As time passes, we are beginning to see more novels about the Iraq war coming to publication and this is an excellent presentation of the horrors and surprises of war that make our service men and women honor what they do and why they do it. Innocence and guilt must have very clear definitions in these scenes; the alternative is too horrific to even think about.
Great writing and very real depiction of what many wish would not be so – but it is and therefore is more poignant and devastating and heart-warming because of your telling of the truth of all sides! Great read! Thanks for sharing, J. W. Stone!