As part of World Book Day 2006, 20 favorite authors were invited to produce a short work. Not just a novella, but a story that would appeal to people that for one reason or another just do not read books. I like the term ‘emerging readers’, these are adults that are challenged by the reading art. The prime rule in this competition was to keep the language simple, and the action hot. Damien Lewis certainly lived up to this. He keeps the adrenalin pumping throughout the book.

I am involved with adult literacy and was delighted to read Desert Claw, there are so few books available that can be utilized in improving adult literacy. I know that often children’s books are used in literacy programs and this creates a stigma for the adult learner.

OK, enough of the pontificating, lets get on to the ‘meat and potatoes’ of Desert Claw.

Damien Lewis does in 125 pages of oversize type what authors such as Tom Clancy would take 800 pages to achieve. Damien leaves out the long and usually pointless scene settings, and endless pages of boring minutia. He just gets right into the tale. In this case the story involves 4 ex UK Special Forces members who are invited to take part in a ‘black operation’. Their mission is to go into war torn Iraq and liberate a Van Gough painting that was looted from one of Saddam’s palaces.

Right from the start our hero’s smell a rat, there are many aspects of this operation that are bothering them, but the money that they are offered becomes an overriding factor. It may not be quite enough to retire on, but certainly enough to have a great deal of fun with.

To tell more about the plot would spoil it. You will have to read it for yourself. As a reviewer I give this book very high marks, it is a riveting and high paced story, and it is very easy to read. I wish more famous authors like Damien Lewis would take some time off from the regular writing regimen and produce a ‘Quick Read’.

Simon Barrett



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