I am going to preface this review by mentioning that political thrillers are not one of my favourite fiction genres. Back in the days of the Cold War, it was easy to keep track of the adversaries. The Middle East? That’s another kettle of fish, as the saying goes. I’ve never truly understood it all, and after reading Ian Thomas Shaw’s Quill of the Dove (2019, MiroLand, an imprint of Guernica Editions), I’m afraid I’m no further ahead, although Mr. Shaw admirably seeks to educate the reader on all sides of the ongoing conflict. There are so many names and splinter groups, Muslim and Christian, and all the poor citizens caught in between them. My head was spinning as I attempted to get through to the elemental story. I am happy to say that persistence pays off, and I was rewarded with an engaging read.
The story itself is told from two different time periods: mid-1970s into the early 80s and later, in 2007. The main protagonist is Marc Taragon, a journalist with a knack for being at or near the front lines of any conflict and getting out safely to tell the story to the world. Marc has many friends and contacts to aid him in being at the forefront of a fluid situation. He is on friendly enough terms with all sides that he and two friends hammer out a peace initiative called Arkassa. The three are heavily involved in trying to broker a peace settlement that would have the support of the major players; they, through Marc, just have to sell it to those in power and the governments they represent.
Along with the business of trying to get all sides together and avoid getting killed by any number of extremists opposed to any type of peace, there are several romantic storylines, the main one being that of Marc and Hoda ‘Akkawi, a Muslim Palestinian woman. Then, a couple of decades later, Marie, a young Canadian journalist, has reason to think that Marc may be her father based on an old picture she has. She was adopted at a young age. But who is her mother? Marie is on a quest to find out the truth from Marc except she soon finds herself in the thick of things too.
“Quill of the Dove brims with heartbreak and love for a troubled region. Shaw’s characters are memorable and his sense of place, steeped in personal experience, is powerful; the scent of orange and olive groves lingers long after the last page is turned.”Ursula Pflug, author of Down From
Ms. Pflug eloquently captures my thoughts after reading Quill of the Dove; the characters certainly are memorable and it’s obvious that Mr. Shaw has first-hand experience of the places of which he writes about. I just wish I understood all of the politics and the reasons for the wars in the first place, although, as I mentioned previously, you don’t really need to fully understand it all to be pleased by reading Quill of the Dove. If you’re in the market for a good literary political thriller, do not overlook Quill of the Dove.
Quill of the Dove by Ian Thomas Shaw
MiroLand Publishers (a Guernica Imprint)
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