“IT WAS THE PERFECT KILLING GROUND. As the rounds slammed into my Toyota I knew that the ambush site was chosen with precision and deadly cunning. The insurgents had waited until all our security vehicles had stopped around the stranded front five trucks before they then unleashed their main weapon -- a Russian-made PK heavy machine gun set up on the roof of a two-storey building to our left. The instant that machine-gun opened up, it began to cut our convoy to pieces. We were now taking heavy fire from three sides.Sounds like an extract from a Jack Higgins novel, but Padraig O’Keefe’s Hidden Soldier is the real deal – Corkman O’Keefe served with the French Foreign Legion in a variety of hot-spots around the world, including Cambodia and Sarajevo, before heading to Iraq as a ‘security specialist’, where the attack described above happened. Headlined ‘There is nothing like the loneliness of realising that you’re the only one left alive on the battlefield’, the Irish Independent has a nice splash on Hidden Soldier, which is published by the O’Brien Press.
The civilian drivers were either dead or dying. I can only guess but there must have been 50 or 60 insurgents surrounding our convoy and their fire was withering.
I was trying to return aimed fire -- but it was hard because I’d been shot in the right elbow. By now, my fatigues were covered in blood which was pouring from my elbow wound and from my bare arms which had been shredded as I combat-crawled along the glass-covered roadway …”
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.