Holding the Zero

Gus Peake is an English civilian with no military experience, so why has he dropped everything and gone to Northern Iraq to fight alongside the Kurds?

Unusually for Gerald Seymour this novel begins on the eve of battle and is set almost entirely in Iraq. When the British government get reports of Peake’s presence in Iraq they send investigators to check his background and it’s the occasional inclusion of their reports which tell us what Peake’s motivation is. It turns out that he’s a expert marksman, yet one who has never taken a life.

While reading this book there were times that I was reminded of both In Honour Bound and The Fighting Man which as it happens are among my favourite Gerald Seymour’s novels. The Kurds have a seemingly hopeless fight ahead of them, but it turns out that the US are quietly lending their support to build an alliance against Saddam. Of course things don’t work out the way they were intended. Iraq’s expert sniper is sent to the battlefield to counter the Englishman. (There is great irony when that happens but I won’t spoil things…)

Speaking for myself it didn’t hurt that Mi-24 helicopter gunships (see In Honour Bound) made a guest appearance!

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