Book review: ‘The Mosul Legacy’ by Christopher Lowery

“The topicality of this novel is what makes it so poignant to read.”

Mosul, Iraq, 2016 – once the defining moment of ISIL’s rise to power, but quickly becoming a giant graveyard, where the difference between a horrific death and harsh survival is down to luck. As attacks by Western coalition forces become more frequent and destroy what’s left of the city, even senior ISIL officers like Karl realise that defeat is inevitable. To make another demonstration of ISIL’s power, Karl instructs two jihadists to travel across the EU Schengen Zone to carry out a terror attack in a Western European City. German police officer, Max Kellerman, is on their tail, but can he find them in time to prevent a catastrophic loss of life?  Meanwhile, Hema and Faqir Al-Douri flee Mosul with their children in search of peace and safety in Western Europe.  As poor, homeless refugees, they face the impossible task of crossing unfriendly borders on a journey that is fraught with danger. Can they ever reach the safe haven they dream of?

The themes explored in this novel are very topical and relevant, and Lowery excels at giving you depth and actual faces behind the headlines of today’s newspapers.  Although it is fiction based around facts, the facts are hard to ignore as they shine through so strongly.  Terrorism, international bureaucracy, policing efforts and refugee crises are issues that are all scrutinised in great detail and remain with you long after you have closed the book.

The alternating perspectives are a real strength because they give you the multi-faceted nature of a single issue. For instance, terrorism in Mosul provides you with the mental state of an ISIL officer while simultaneously demonstrating how it has pushed an Iraqi family, the Al-Douris, out of their home country and rendered them refugees.  As a reader, you feel quite conflicted, particularly in regards to the character of Ibrahim, one of the jihadists plotting a terrorist attack; you know that what he is planning is atrocious and yet, because you have that access to his mentality, you begin to see a human side to him.  Meanwhile, your heart will melt with sympathy for the Al-Douris as they trek across Europe to find a place of safety.  The harrowing events they experience make you realise how their story is representative of the thousands of refugees trying to enter Europe, facing many threats to their lives and the international laws that control their movements.  You cannot help but imagine yourself in their situation, having no home, little or no money and an uncertain and dangerous future.

I was intrigued from the very beginning of this book because its plot is so gripping, with its multi-stranded nature whisking you all over Europe and Asia from one danger to the next. The final few chapters had me on the edge of my seat with tension and anticipation as the plot’s threads all weave together to create an explosive and climactic tapestry.  Max Kellerman was one of my favourite characters; his dedication, intelligence and determination to prevent the incoming terrorist attack kept me engaged with the book; I kept asking myself whether he would be able to catch the jihadists in time. Faqir was my other favourite character because he was so inspirational in his undying hope to reach a place of safety that he and his family could call home.  His meticulous planning and devotion to his family by offering to sacrifice himself for them were heart-warming to read.

The Mosul Legacy is a poignant read that takes you behind today’s headlines about terrorism and the refugee crisis, and gives them a human face like you’ve never seen before. Although fiction based around facts, Lowery’s novel is as emotionally moving as it is thrilling. You will not be able to put it down.

Rating: 5/5

The Mosul Legacy will be available in paperback in Kindle formats from 27th September, 2018.

2 Comments

  1. F says:

    A persuasive review – I want to read this now One question: do you feel that the book buys into stereotypes or challenges them? Also do you know anything about the background of the author – like whether they are a refugee or lived in Iraq? Many thanks again, look forward to more of your reviews/articles

  2. Thank you Louise. You’ve made a cool, rainy day very sunny and warm.
    Kind regards,
    Chris

Leave a Comment