Sunday, June 30, 2013

Babylon Smiles - by Weston Ochse - An adventure set during the war in Iraq

4 of 5 Stars    Review Copy

When I think of Weston Ochse, I think of a well respected member of the horror writing community, but then there's this other side of him that has spent 20-plus years serving his country in the U. S. Army, many of them in Army Intelligence.  Retired in 2004, he is back in Afghanistan as I write this.  Why?  I'll let Weston explain in his own words.  From a recent Father's Day post on his website at, "I chose to come here. I could have stayed home. I had plenty of opportunities. But I wanted to serve my country. I wanted to be that man my father and grandfather showed me how to be. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I miss my wife, even though we talk every day. But I’m here for a season of duty. I’m here to serve. I’m here to build my shadow."

So, despite success in the horror genre, it's not surprising that Weston Osche would write about being in a war zone.  After all, the best writers write what they know.  Babylon Smiles is a work of fiction, loosely based on a series of actual headlines during the war in Iraq and the hunt for Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.

Here's the premise..."From a Federal Reserve Bank in New York to a New Jersey Warehouse to Baghdad, electronic funds seized from the Iraqi government were being converted to actual currency and returned in C-130s.  When they landed, the cash was offloaded and disguised as boxes of Meals Ready To Eat-Those high-calorie, bad tasting rations fed to GIs world-wide.  Then keeping the lowest of profiles, the millions were loaded onto the back of Army Transport trucks, guarded by privates and supervised by sergeants.  So far, by this method, over one billion dollars had been transported in order to refill banks that had been looted.  And in the best traditions of Kelly's Heroes and Three Kings, Chief Warrant Officer Rudy Ray Moore and company had determined that they should be allowed to carve their own piece of Iraqi pie."

The 399th Transportation Company was a relatively small outfit with the job of vehicle recovery.  It was their job to bring in military vehicles that had broken down or been damaged in an attack.  The team is made up of a number of what some might consider misfits, but Chief Moore likes his squad just fine.

In their quest for the Big Score there are numerous obstacles thrown their way, plenty of dangerous situations, and a lot of twists along the way.  Yet, somehow the story comes down to being more about relationships and survival, in a difficult reality, than about any heist.

I've said before in this blog that I'm not a fan of combat fiction, but I'm a sucker for a good story and that's what you'll get in Babylon Smiles.  Look for the reveal on the meaning of Babylon Smiles, too.  That's kinda cool.


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