Reviews for Missionaries A novel. [electronic resource] :

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A host of journalists, mercenaries, soldiers, and well-meaning innocents are thrust into a quagmire in Colombia.Klays first novel, the follow-up to Redeployment, his stellar 2014 story collection about U.S. soldiers in Iraq, gives his concerns about intractable violence a broader scope. Early on, he introduces characters in alternating chapters: Among them are Abel, a young foot soldier in the gruesome battles among drug cartels, soldiers, and guerrillas in northern Colombia circa 1999; Lisette, a jaded journalist covering the war in Afghanistan; Juan Pablo, a Colombian military officer hoping to shepherd his country to a deal ending decades of conflict; and Mason, a former medic in Afghanistan now serving as a Special Forces Liaison in Colombia. By 2016 these peoples lives will intertwine, but not before Klay has gone deep into the violence and fogs of confusion they witness and sometimes create. In Colombia, Abel witnesses a defiant mayor get strapped to a piano and chainsawed in half; Mason hastily patches up the wounded in similarly visceral scenes. So its clear things will be messy when Lisette requests to be transferred to any wars right now where were not losing and is sent to Colombia. The challenge before any serious war novelist is to bring order to chaos without succumbing to a tidy narrative. Its to Klays credit that he creates ambiguity not through atmospheric language or irony (Redeployment had its share of Heller-esque gallows humor) but through careful psychological portraits that reveal how readily relationships grow complicated and how even good intentions come undone in the face of humanitys urge to violence. That means plotlines get convoluted in the late stages, but the dispiriting conclusion is crystal clear: Its not just that war is hell, but that war brings hellishness to everything. An unflinching and engrossing exploration of violences agonizing persistence. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A host of journalists, mercenaries, soldiers, and well-meaning innocents are thrust into a quagmire in Colombia. Klay’s first novel, the follow-up to Redeployment, his stellar 2014 story collection about U.S. soldiers in Iraq, gives his concerns about intractable violence a broader scope. Early on, he introduces characters in alternating chapters: Among them are Abel, a young foot soldier in the gruesome battles among drug cartels, soldiers, and guerrillas in northern Colombia circa 1999; Lisette, a jaded journalist covering the war in Afghanistan; Juan Pablo, a Colombian military officer hoping to shepherd his country to a deal ending decades of conflict; and Mason, a former medic in Afghanistan now serving as a Special Forces Liaison in Colombia. By 2016 these people’s lives will intertwine, but not before Klay has gone deep into the violence and fogs of confusion they witness and sometimes create. In Colombia, Abel witnesses a defiant mayor get strapped to a piano and chainsawed in half; Mason hastily patches up the wounded in similarly visceral scenes. So it’s clear things will be messy when Lisette requests to be transferred to “any wars right now where we’re not losing” and is sent to Colombia. The challenge before any serious war novelist is to bring order to chaos without succumbing to a tidy narrative. It’s to Klay’s credit that he creates ambiguity not through atmospheric language or irony (Redeployment had its share of Heller-esque gallows humor) but through careful psychological portraits that reveal how readily relationships grow complicated and how even good intentions come undone in the face of humanity’s urge to violence. That means plotlines get convoluted in the late stages, but the dispiriting conclusion is crystal clear: It’s not just that war is hell, but that war brings hellishness to everything. An unflinching and engrossing exploration of violence’s agonizing persistence. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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