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"Uncertainty among the characters, coupledwith relentless gunfire and explosions, make for an extraordinary novel, eachpage as eruptive as the city providing the setting." KIRKUS REVIEWS
"Dynamite Fishermen is an absolute stunnerof a novel. It's clear Fleming has done his research and it shows in theseamless dialogue and the ease at which he tackles the task of conveying thewartime ambiance." SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW
"In Dynamite Fishermen, Preston Flemingdepicts heedless violence as a way of life from the perspective of an Americanintelligence officer. This intelligently written novel provides a compellingpage-turner and a memorable story." PACIFIC BOOK REVIEW "More thanmemorable... Captures Beirut's harshterrain in a vibrant, fast-paced story." BOOKPLEASURES.COM
From the Author
Iwrote Dynamite Fishermen and Bride of a Bygone War to clear myhead after eleven years of government service in places like Beirut, Cairo, Tunis,Jeddah, and Amman.I had already decidedto write novels at age fourteen, during my first year as a boarding student atExeter.My English instructor, a WorldWar II combat veteran, advised those of us who wanted to follow the path of Melville,Conrad and Hemingway to first go out and live some adventures so that we wouldhave stories that people might want to read. My adventures started in theMiddle East and continued in Washington, Europe, the Russian Far East, Maui,Utah, New York and Boston. Though my most recent novels are set far from Beirut in a future dystopian America, I intend to write more stories set in the Middle East before long.
This is the second book of Mr. Fleming's that I have read. The first, "Forty Days at Kamas" was excellent. "Dynamite Fishermen" surpasses it. Students aspiring to be authors are repeatedly told, "Write about what you know." Mr. Preston definitely knew what he was writing about here. The action is set in Beirut, 1982. The protagonist, Conrad Prosser, has a job working for the diplomatic service who can speak the language like a native. As with many in the service, he is an intelligence reporter and uses several locals to glean this intel. Being a dashing young man (and perhaps a bit of a cad) he is popular with the ladies...a willing participan in Beirut's not-so-secret nightlife. Prosser has a problem: his 2 year tour at the Embassy is ending, and he has not recruited an agent while in Beirut. No recruit, no promotion...in fact, it may even end his career as a field agent and relegate him to a desk in DC!
At the moment, he is attempting to bring a brother/sister combo into the fold. At the same time, he is constantly holding surreptitious meetings with his cadre of Lebanese and Palestinian agents. His goal is to find out exactly who is behind a deadly string of car bombings that has terrorized West Beirut. One of his contacts fingers a Syrian-backed team that yields some unwanted results. Retaliation, assasination and mayhem ensue. Commonplace in Beirut? Yes, but this time it directly theatens Prosser: not only his person and career, but people he cares about.
I felt the danger that Prosser was in as I read "Dynamite Fishermen" as he walked the streets always having to gauge the level of danger he might be in, trying to figure out if that person across the street was just "there"...or there for HIM! I really had a hard time putting this down. I can't wait to read the next one!
My informal title for this is - hard way to get a GS-12 but that's because I'm a federal position classification specialist and was actually interested in the grade/promotion discussions in this book. Conrad, the protagonist, works as a federal information gatherer (spy) in Beirut in the 1980s. Advancement is dependent upon cultivating these contacts and bringing in solid information. This has an authentic flavor as Conrad moved through the city with violence always on the edges and sometimes spilling closer as he meets with his informants under various aliases. He obviously loves his job and attracts the ladies. It's exotic and blends the daily 'rounds' (both informants and shellings/shootings) to show the life of an agent at that time. He certainly takes more risks than I would but I'm sure that kind of job attracts a certain adventurer type. I rated this at 3 stars because there were times this seemed to be a bit disjointed between chapters. I suspect that there were simply periods of time where not much happened but the transitions were abrupt for me. I do think this book is valuable because it provides a look at that part of the Middle East in that particular time period. The region has been under trouble for a long time and the challenges are huge.
This novel set in a divided Lebanon, follows the day to day life of an American Spymaster and a reluctant would be recruiter of new intelligence talent. The phrase working both ends against the middle comes to mind, as the story follows the lead character's management of his stable of Palestinian and Lebanese agents. He tries to determine the origins of a rising number of car bombings, and what various factions within alliances are planning, while trying to get a thorough taste of the intriguing nightlife.in a divided Beirut. He finds that to accommodate the fluid standards of career diplomacy he is driven to deceit rather than honesty. Which in turns leads to him putting his life and those of those closest to him at risk. But as his posting draws to a close he finds it in himself to risk his career through an act of selflessness. The story is tightly written and the secondary characters are interesting, evoking a range of emotions from their stories. Well worth the investment in time and effort.
Started slowly, and I considered not finishing; but thankfully continued reading. I became wrapped up in the continually changing plot and sub-plots. Found myself getting out of bed at two in the morning to finish the last few chapters.
The long list of characters, sometimes lengthy descriptions of the city, and descriptions of routes through the city were listed by some reviewers as detracting from the story. However, I found they aided in understanding the impact of the conflict and the confusing interactions of the numerous factions involved. Looking forward to reading Bride of a Bygone War.
It is rare to find a novel of espionage written with such gritty realism. Much of the novel takes place in cars in and around a very dangerous Beirut in the early 1980's. The danger on the streets and the complex relationships between warring factions are presented in a visceral, exciting, and thought-provoking way. So why not five stars? The author throws it all away with a mind- numbing effort to make very very certain that the reader understands the symbolism of the title. After treating his readers as adults all along by offering an exciting but realistic story, the author dumbs himself down by spelling out the "meaning" of the story. Readers deserve better.
This novel takes place in late 20th Century Lebanon and is full of the interlocking intrigue of the various factions vying for power in that area of the Middle East at the time. It could well be today. The Protagonist is a member of the U.S. Embassy and his job is to obtain information from various sources as to what is going on, what is planned, and by whom in the struggle to obtain political dominance in Lebanon. The book is interesting, a quick read and brings home the point that despite the passage of time things have not changed much in the Middle East. They just can't seem to get their act together, politically. I really enjoyed it.