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Perpetrators of Death: In Life and Fiction


Two powerful books make up John’s reviews this month, one is real life and the other is fiction.

The Making of the Modern Middle East

The long-standing conflict within the Middle East has reached boiling point with the current events in Gaza and Israel. In an effort to gain insight into the horrors and also the hope the situation is creating, Jeremy Bowen’s The Making of the Modern Middle East takes the reader on an authoritative, compassionate and balanced journey. Which is based on his extensive personal experience as a leading journalist and war correspondent.

He highlights the rise of extremist groups, or religious fundamentalists, in particular, the Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah (a Lebanese Shia Islamist Movement), Hamas (an Islamic Resistance Movement) and Ultraorthodox Jews. According to the Hebrew meaning, Jerusalem is the “City of Peace”. However, in reality, the conflict between the Jews and the Arabs has festered for over 100 years. It has affected the lives of so many, not merely the extremists on both sides.

The Making of the Modern Middle East

Northern Gaza

His pertinent observation at the time of writing the book that “Israel could recapture Gaza if it wanted to”, but then it would be responsible for over two million people, exposes the fragility of all citizens in a war situation. Readers should ponder on Jeremy’s observations in light of the actions by Hamas extremists. Which has taken the conflict to a new level since the publication of this book alongside the Israeli response to bludgeon Palestinians into submission with the destruction of Northern Gaza.

Other nations are watching on in trepidation that war, political killings, terrorism and refugee displacement will also occur in Iraq, Iran, Libya and Egypt. The key issue is whether it will be possible to forge a path towards peace in the Middle East. Matters linked to the war in Ukraine have been put on hold since the current events in Gaza are posing a great threat to the World. Major questions will need addressing, such as: can the threat of indiscriminate Hamas rebels be destroyed? Or have the roots of revenge from both sides spread beyond Gaza?

As Jeremy Bowen emphasises , “Powerful states looking in from outside need to stop making it worse. Do no more harm, try to make things better”.

This book is outstanding work about a key issue of world peace, which is everybody’s problem. It must not be ignored. It is highly recommended as an authoritative text giving real insight into the confrontation in Gaza.

Jeremy Bowen - image copyright Johnny Ring
Jeremy Bowen – image copyright Johnny Ring

The Wrexham Killings

A key attribute of a detective novel is when the author grabs the reader’s interest straightaway and generates that “can’t wait to read more” sensation.

In the compelling and absorbingly cut-and-thrust The Wrexham Killings, Simon McCleave instantly captivates the reader with the dynamic introduction of a young woman “clasping her hand to the back of her skull, she felt that her hair was sticky and matted. Is that blood?” Where was she, I wondered? “The young woman stopped to get her bearings… it was the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct or Traphont Ddwr Pontcysyllte”!

The Wrexham Killings

I eagerly continued reading; Simon, a best-selling crime writer, had captured my “thirst for more”. On the way to revealing the crime, Simon displays great skill by placing the action in places that the reader may have visited or be familiar with. Such as Acton Park, Penyffordd, Trefnant, Abergele or the fictional Llancastell. He introduces Detective Sergeant Nick Evans along with his favourite coffee mug emblazoned with “I support two teams… Wales and whoever England are playing”. Evans was a recovering alcoholic who, when on the booze, was full of self-pity, self-loathing and resentment and had endured time on remand in prison.

Readers will be engrossed as the author captures their attention in 75 short and flowing chapters with some absorbing and spine-chilling dialogue. It gives another boost to the City of Wrexham. The author’s insight into strategies of police teamwork and personalities of individuals involved in the action are stand-out features of the text and keep readers focused. Well worth reading. Ardderchog (excellent).

For more book reviews, click here.

Simon McCleave
Simon McCleave

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