Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Grave Breach by James Macomber

Reviewed for Front Street Reviews
Originally posted July 21, 2008

As the story unfolds the reader is introduced to atrocities performed over a span from WWII to the present, centering in particular around Bosnia. With a sudden leap into the content of the story, as the characters watch a horrific video of ethnic cleansing, I found myself unsure whether I would be able to read it, but was surprised to find it grab my attention firmly. I think it is a duty to us all to become informed, preferably with the hope that there will someday be an end to crimes against humanity. I found a lot of the content gave me an insight and understanding of worldwide conflict, loss of freedom and what it means, personal strengths and weaknesses, international law and interpretation, and much more. The "Grave Breach" of course, refers to the Geneva Protocols.

"A Grave Breach" is action-packed in a world-wide scenario from start to finish. At first I found myself looking for continuity, as the story jumped through several periods of time and place, but by the end these threads did come together. Surprises abound, good can be bad and vice-versa, and fighting for freedom and respect can make strange bedfellows. The characters are fully formed and consistent. The story itself remains strong throughout and unfortunately very believable.

The heroic force, if you will, is the law firm of Loring, Matsen, & Gould, with the primary hero being John Cann. Cann is a partner who, though an international lawyer, is basically a law unto himself, tough and able to deal with eliminating threat, he shows his compassionate side too. Throughout the book, several characters play heroic roles, including the elderly Matsen who made the first connection in WWII. It could be argued that the real hero is Janie, the survivor of a hideous attack that is refered to throughout the book (without details for which I personally was thankful)! This is the first book by James Macomber that I have read, so her story-line may have been the subject of another book. I liked what happened in the very end, emotionally both elated and sad. I felt almost like I had fallen off a precipice after the action in the preceding chapters. This is not the type of book I normally read but I did find it interesting, historic, and once I got into it I discovered I didn't want to put it down. If fast-paced factual-based thrillers, international law, political intrigue, and/or historical conflict fiction is your genre, I'm sure you will enjoy this book. The author has done an exceptional job of bringing the inhumanity-wracked, terrorist-ridden world to reality, and close to home. Certainly, the author is well-worth being on your "to read" list.

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