Energy Dependence Day by Christian Burton

20709616Forced to flee their home in Kabul, Afghanistan, ten-year-old Husam’s family finds tragedy before they can find freedom.  Husam’s parents are killed in a U.S. air strike, while Husam finds himself spirited away by Al Qaeda forces – the very group that was the air strike’s target – where he becomes the unlikely protégé of a high-ranking Al Qaeda leader.   Al-Faruq is a young member of the Saudi military whose parents were lost years ago to sickness.  When a botched military skirmish results in Al-Faruq’s reassignment to law enforcement, the newly minted detective begins investigating the actions of certain terrorist groups working in Saudi Arabia.  Husam narrowly escapes capture during a police raid on an Al Qaeda information cache, after which he relocates to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia to help assist (and spy on) the imam at a prominent mosque.  Through various means, both men find that they have become entrenched in a terrorist plot against the United States, their every action determining whether the plot will be a success or a failure.

Christian Burton’s debut novel, “Energy Dependence Day,” draws readers’ attention to a region of the world of which many Americans remain woefully ignorant.  He captures not only the positive aspects and traditions of Middle Eastern society, but also many of (what Westerners consider to be) its negative aspects, including the social confinement of women, excessive corporal punishment, and the presence of a unifying but highly restrictive religion.  But by balancing this with rich, lush descriptions of both Saudi city and desert – and by peopling his environs with conflicted yet morally upright characters – Burton creates a deep-hearted novel that serves as a refreshingly unbiased examination of political and social conflict between the Middle East and the United States.

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