x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Follow Me Home is not battle ready

Current events shade the storyline of Follow Me Home, but the plotting is predictable and the storytelling loyal.

Patrick Bishop's Follow Me Home has been described by Chris Hunter, a former bomb-disposal expert turned author, as "the first great novel of the Afghan war". If truth be told, it is a little more military medium than that most generous of assessments.

Set in Helmand Province, Bishop's book opens with a band of British soldiers staking out a residential compound, where a senior Taliban official is holed up. With shades of current events, the group are charged with taking out this "high-value target", before the mission goes awry. When the dust finally settles, four servicemen survive. Left without a way to call in assistance - their radio was destroyed in the exchange of fire - they have no option but to make their own way back to base.

Thus begins a "tab" (march) through hostile terrain, imbued with equal parts bravery, incompetence and in-fighting. There are (Toyota) HiLuxes and hijinks along the way, but Bishop is nothing if not predictable and loyal in his storytelling. In these pages, the might of the military will never be humbled after its nose has been bloodied.