Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bloody War by Terry Grimwood.

Warfare. After an entire history steeped in it, as we have made our way from one apocalyptic transition to the next, the reasons behind this mind-numbing dance of death are as mysterious now as they were on the first battlefields of history. What is it, precisely, that drives us to kill our own kind? Basic human nature? Resources? The invention of money? It’s a pertinent question we’re still asking to this very day, and with Bloody War, Terry Grimwood attempts an answer via a powerful thriller where modern England has become the theatre for a new kind of bloodshed.   

The carnage comes to Pete Allman guillotine fashion: one morning he wakes up to find more than eighteen months have passed in the blink of an eye. War has managed to penetrate his reasonably cozy existence as a reformed Bikie now working a desk job with a loving wife and three growing children. Things are the same but utterly different: existence has been reduced to a past only read about in history books and viewed in documentaries. Food is rationed, propaganda is pertinent, and the sky is perpetually darkened by the soot and stain of bombs. In order to blend in, Pete must keep up the charade – his ignorance about the enemy (about everything significant to this new reality), will see his undoing if he attracts the wrong kind of attention. But it could also be his savior ... the one thing keeping him alive while buildings, landmarks, and even the people he loves burn all hours of the day and night.

This is a decisive and quick novel, the first person narration easy to digest if a little insipid early on. In the second half, things ratchet up as surprising events force Pete right into the heart of the battle. It is here where Terry’s prose shows the promise we glimpsed early on: a horror writer coming into their own with the canvas of war to showcase tears, blood, and nightmare imagery. Just when things feel familiar, startling new developments arise that see no character safe from the bombs raining down. Pete Allman is a sympathetic protagonist. We root for him as mysteries surrounding the war are peeled back and exposed. 

Is this a political novel? It is if you have been following current world events and have numerous questions surrounding the validity of those events. In this respect, the book works on an emotional level. Really, who are we fighting in any war? Who are the real leaders? The lines are not black and white anymore, if they ever were, and Pete’s personal journey is like a reflection for humanity as a whole. Although the majority march blindly to war drums in any crusade, there is hope, for always a faction will step out of the throng and entice others to follow. With a healthy smattering of George Orwell’s 1984 merged with the cat and mouse chase of film excursions like Minority Report, Terry Grimwood brings modern warfare all bloody and shrieking into the dark heart of Western society.