Follow Here To Purchase Bride of a Bygone War

Author: Preston Fleming

ASIN: B005EV8692

In the spring of 1981, intelligence officer Walter Lukash returns to Lebanon after a five year absence. He thinks he’s on a short two month mission. His assignment is to liaison with the Phalange militia, an organization allegedly working against the Syrian occupying army during the heated civil war in Lebanon. However, Lukash quickly learns he might have big problems as he’s told the two-month tour of duty will actually be a two year stint. He had hoped he could do his duty and leave the country before being forced to face the wife he abandoned in Lebanon five years before. Back then, he was using a cover name of a non-existent businessman. Now, he knows there’s no way he can avoid being discovered by his wife, or her vengeful family, during a longer stay in the war-torn country. In addition, while the agency doesn’t know about the unauthorized marriage, they are aware that his most recent lover, the widow of a terrorist suspect, is on his trail and jeopardizing his career. The agency tells him to break off the affair; he won’t do it. Instead, Lukash, a man who has dodged making decisions and cleaning up his own messes, is now forced to face the consequences of his actions while completely misreading what his Phalange contacts are arranging. 

While Bride is the second book in Fleming’s Beirut Trilogy, it’s actually a prequel to Dynamite Fisherman, a novel featuring another intelligence officer, Conrad Prosser, who has a major supporting role in Bride. Both books share the same harsh backdrop, a city where the “morning broadcasts always carried a complete listing of the hot spots that Beirut's morning commuters should avoid if they wished to escape sniping, shelling, kidnapping, car bombs, and other local hazards.” However, Fishermen is more successful at capturing this terrain in a more vibrant, fast-paced, and descriptive story.

Bride is a more disjointed account with an often two-dimensional protagonist. The more serious plot, of an attempt by would-be allies to draw the U.S. into an all out war with Syria, is often pushed to the background while Lukash tries to hide his amours from headquarters. He’s saved from his wife’s family several times due to luck rather than to his own actions or initiative. He has dreams about a woman who looks like his wife who has a child he eventually saves from a check-point arrest, but what has this to do with anything else in the novel? It’s one scene allowing Lukash to be heroic, but we need to see this courage when he encounters the family he wronged five years previously. Instead, others take care of his problems when he’s not around.

This isn’t to say Lukash doesn’t have his moments. In the most intense episode, when he learns of the trap his contacts have arranged for him, he shows both resourcefulness and human decency in rescuing a compatriot others might have left for dead. Still, as a whole, Dynamite Fisherman is a more fleshed-out experience with more depth and detail. Bride is readable, believable, and perhaps only suffers in comparison with its sequential follow-up. I’m looking forward to part three as Preston Fleming does know how to spin a yarn. Even when he’s not at the top of his game, his fiction has more verisimilitude than many others in this genre.


Follow Here To Purchase Bride of a Bygone War