This is a sequel to 'War Torn' b
y the same authors, and reviewed on the site elsewhere. 'Battle Lines'
features many of the same characters that appeared in the first novel, and still has as it's central character Sergeant Dave Henley, along with his wife, Jenny. This book is about them, and the trials they face, as well as the other men and families in the book.
Dave Henley is home, and coming toward the end of Christmas leave. We meet him and some of his friends in the pub, where they have gone to escape the wives and girlfriends, the families and friends, where they can relate to each other as they can't to the outsiders. For those who have not been in combat, engaged in life or death struggles and forged the bonds that only occur in those desperate circumstances, can not understand how these men are inside. How they feel, the nightmares they have, the need they have to return to that crucible of terror.
Domestic difficulties; the need for a new washing machine, the attitude of staff at the nursery, the boredom the wives feel when the men are away is something that Dave and his blokes can't fathom, either. It's not rocket science, and how difficult can it be to sort out car tax? The stage is set for unhappy families. Add to the mix a muslim soldier and the harrasement his family at home get from their friends and neighbours, and the tension begins to mount.
A spearhead tour, a new intiative in Afghanistan and the battalion is off to the front line once more. Jenny needs a job, has to earn more money to send their daughter to a better pre-school, and she meets a retired General. One who is charismatic, saddened by his divorce and able to offer her a job. Then the rumours start, and with Dave thousands of miles away, uncommunicative and absorbed with his job, cracks begin to appear in the relationship. An injued friend and his slightly feckless wife simply add fuel to the fire until a blaze begins.
This is a bit of a depture for the authors, and it works very well. McNab and Kym Jordan spent a lot of time talking with both serving and deployed troops and their families and have an understanding of the strains that tours put on both parties. It's not all nappies and hormones; there is action aplenty too, and well written
Like his other books, Andy has not gone for the Great English Novel, but for a book that will entertain, thrill and perhaps make the reader think a bit more. His descriptions, aided by his co-author, of the life in garrison and the pettiness that can erupt into domestic warfare, are good and will resonate with those who have lived that life.
Kym Jordan is an author who has written non-fiction books, including one about the SAS. She has worked in Peshawar with refugees and broadcasts on the BBC World Sevice. ( or did)!
Andy McNab is well-known, both for his military past, his books and his patronage of Help for Heroes.
I reckon a good 4 for this book, maybe even 4 and a half for being an easy and good read.