The Girl in Green

The Girl in Green

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“A modern masterpiece.— BookPage

Finalist for the CWA Gold Dagger Award, “Best Crime Novel of the Year”

“As daring in execution as imagination, this adventure tale crackles with heart, charm and dark honesty.” — Shelf Awareness

“Not to be missed, this is a compelling combination of literate storytelling and action-packed thriller laced with humor.” — Library Journal, starred review

1991. One hundred miles from the Kuwaiti border, Thomas Benton meets Arwood Hobbes. Benton is a British journalist who is starting an ambitious career reporting from war zones, resulting in the estrangement of his wife and daughter; Arwood is a naive small-town American private bored out of his skull waiting for something—anything—to happen. Desert Storm is over, peace has been declared, but as they argue about whether it makes sense to cross the nearest border in search of an ice cream, they become embroiled in a horrific attack in which a young local girl in a green dress is killed as they are trying to protect her. The two men walk away into their respective lives. But something has cracked for them both.

Twenty-two years later, in another place, in another war, they meet again as changed men. Time, politics, or maybe fate is now offering an unlikely opportunity to redeem themselves when that same girl in green is found alive and in need of salvation. Or is she?

“Written with Miller’s incisive wit, intelligence, compassion and authenticity, this is a novel from a writer fast becoming a master of his craft.” — Evening Post (UK)

“Swift, gripping, and mined with surprises.” — David Shafer, author of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

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  • Format: eBook

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780544706279

  • ISBN-10: 0544706277

  • Pages: 336

  • Price: $2.99

  • Publication Date: 01/03/2017

  • Carton Quantity: 1

Derek B. Miller
Author

Derek B. Miller

DEREK B. MILLER has worked on international peace and security for think tanks, diplomatic missions, and the United Nations. His first novel, Norwegian by Night, was an Indies Choice Honor Book, an Economist best book of 2013, and a winner of the Crime Writers' Association's John Creasey Dagger Award. His second novel, The Girl in Green, was published in 2017. Born and raised in Boston, Miller has lived abroad for more than fifteen years, in Norway, Switzerland, Britain, Israel, and Hungary. He now lives in Oslo, Norway, with his wife and two children. 
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  • reviews

    Short-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger Award, "Best Crime Novel of the Year" 

    One of Shelf Awareness' "Best Books of 2017" 

     

    "A modern masterpiece, The Girl in Green taps into the same satirical vein as Joseph Heller’s war classic, Catch-22... Miller... is well qualified to explore the tangled political, bureaucratic, cultural and religious issues at play in the Middle East. His tongue-in-cheek candor brings much-needed levity to the proceedings, making the difficult subject matter relatable and engaging. Bursting with humanity and humor, The Girl in Green is heartbreaking and hopeful in equal measures, delivering nail-biting suspense while bringing readers into the heart of the conflict in Iraq."—BookPage 

     

    “As daring in execution as imagination, this adventure tale crackles with heart, charm and dark honesty…Miller pulls off an amazing feat of alchemy here, because this chronicle of trauma, violence and endless conflict is the unlikely feel-good story of the year. Not only does he pepper the narrative with enough absurdist humor and one-liners to keep readers helplessly grinning at the darkest moments, he hits points of emotional resonance with the precision of a sniper. Miller understands the story readers most need…[His] style is an all-terrain vehicle...In Arwood and  Benton, readers will see the kind of big personalities that carry movie franchises...A word of advice: buy The Girl in Green rather than borrow it. With the proliferation of sharp one liners, occasional droplets of poetry like ‘the buzuq sings a song for which there will never be any words,’ and insightful distillations of the intricacies and contradictions of an American conflict that slides from phase to phase without ever ending, the urge to highlight and dog-ear will overcome even the most book-proud reader.”—Shelf Awareness 

     

    "A polished and powerful commentary on the effects of war on two men—an ambitious British journalist and a clueless American soldier who meet briefly in Iraq at the end of the Gulf War in 1991...This is an excellent depiction of the complicated Iraq-Syria situation, especially the desperate plight of refugees and the West’s failure to provide peace or relief. Miller caps his stellar, electrifying story with a knockout ending."—Publishers Weekly, starred and boxed review  

     

    "As in his acclaimed debut, Norwegian by Night (2013), Miller brilliantly blends offbeat reflection and dark emotion, using pop-culture references ranging from Ferris Bueller to Winnie the Pooh to underscore the killing ironies of war. A penetrating, poetic, and unexpectedly disarming book about the ageless conflict in the Middle East by a writer who has made that topic his specialty."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review 

      

    "[Miller's] decades of experience in international relations support this sympathetic portrayal of clashing cultures, but it is the vividly drawn, often quirky characters and timely plot that fascinate...VERDICT: Not to be missed, this is a compelling combination of literate storytelling and action-packed thriller laced with humor."—Library Journal, starred review 

     

    “Arwood and Benton are improbable knights-errant….[who] make thoroughly beguiling action-adventure heroes, and Miller’s knowledge of the chaotic and vicious Syrian civil war and the dogged efforts of NGO workers to care for the war’s refugees set the scene brilliantly. The Girl in Green is a worthy follow-up to Miller’s fine debut.”—Booklist, starred review 

     

    The Girl in Green is swift, gripping, and mined with surprises. Miller's language slows and blooms when he is writing of love, obligation, duty or truth, then rockets to pace when the topic turns to the armed checkpoint ten cars ahead of you. And his characters are incredible—or rather, they’re totally credible, and braided seamlessly into an incredible story. Arwood Hobbes is as intriguing an operative as Graham Greene's quiet American, but without the quiet.”—David Shafer, author of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 

     

    "The Girl in Green is a Catch-22 for the twenty-first century. You'll laugh so hard you'll cry tears of blood."—Madison Smartt Bell, award-winning author of All Souls' Rising and many others 

     

    "Wars are never fully left behind on the battlefield, are they? They’re carried home like burrs in a soldier’s clothing. And they prick and scrape the skin for years and years and years. In Derek B. Miller’s new novel, a soldier and a journalist each witness a terrible attack during Operation Desert Storm and carry those burr-like images with them long after they return home....until another war comes along and they finally have to confront their feelings about what they saw. As an author of a novel about Operation Iraqi Freedom, I get a steady flood of war literature cascading across my desk each month. The Girl in Green has managed to rise above the tide—thanks to the tantalizing story and the promise of the opening lines on the first page—and I’ve put it near the top of my summer-reading pile."—David Abrams, author of Fobbit and blogger at The Quivering Pen 

     

    “Derek B. Miller’s follow up to his prize-winning debut novel, Norwegian by Night, provides a stunning and unsettling insight into the troubled landscape of the Middle East and a soul-searching exploration of Western foreign policy…Written with Miller’s incisive wit, intelligence, compassion and authenticity, this is a novel from a writer fast becoming a master of his craft.”—Evening Post (UK) 

     

    “Miller dives into the complex and confusing world of the Middle East with a depth of knowledge of the region and the forces at play that is obvious on every page. His writing is direct and powerful — it’s impossible to read this without becoming angry and upset, but there is humor too, and just enough hope. I found aspects horrifying, even more so because I knew it was true. His first book, Norwegian By Night, was one of my favorite books of 2013, and I think this one’s even better.  Verdict: heart-thumping thriller.”—Herald Sun (Australia) 

      

    “Thrillers using conflict in the Middle East as a backdrop aren't thin on the ground, but Derek B. Miller's The Girl in Green stands above most, both in literary ambition and the complexity of its engagement with the region's geopolitics….Written before the rise of Islamic State, The Girl in Green is a suspenseful, character-driven, and eerily prescient moral thriller.”—The Age (Australia) 

      

    “Derek B. Miller’s powerful debut Norwegian By Night had a range of concerns, but quickly plunged readers deep into Nordic noir territory, with murder, brutal Balkan villains and a frantic cross-country chase. The Girl in Green is very different, with Iraq its subject. British journo Thomas Benton joins a group hoping to make up for the death of a local girl a decade earlier in Ope...

  • excerpts

    PART I: AN EARLY SPRING 

    1991 

      

    1

      

    Arwood Hobbes was bored. Not regular bored. Not your casual, rainy-day, Cat in the Hat–style bored that arrives with the wet, leaving you with nothing to do. It wasn’t post-fun or pre-excitement bored, either. It was, somehow, different. It felt rare and deliberate, entire and complete, industrial and inescapable. It was the kind of bored that had you backstroking in the green mist of eternity wondering about the big questions without searching for answers. And it wasn’t in short supply, either, because it was being dispensed like candy on Halloween to Arwood and others like him at Checkpoint Zulu at the rim of the Euphrates Valley, in the heart of Iraq, by the world’s largest contractor of boredom: the United States Army. 

            How long had he been bored? How long was he destined to be bored? Arwood couldn’t even muster the motivation to care as he melted over his machine gun under the hot, hot sun that was pressing down on the sandy sand around him without a raindrop in sight and no one offering to cheer him up. 

            The M60 machine gun was the perfect height for leaning on. It was probably the perfect height for firing, too, but Arwood had no proof of that because he hadn’t fired the gun since qualifying on it, and there was nothing to aim at because everything was far away, apart from a camel; and while he did point the gun at the camel for a while, it ultimately seemed a mean thing to do, so he stopped. That was eons ago. Nothing fun like that had happened since. Even the camel had gone away. 

            It wasn’t that Arwood was unfamiliar with being bored and that his resistance was low. After all, Operation Desert Storm ?— ?now over ?— ?had really been just a month-long air campaign on exposed Iraqi troops followed by a four-day ground war, which meant there wasn’t a lot of ground war for him or his buddies, or much for people on the ground to actually do. For Arwood, the Gulf War primarily involved him doing a lot of nothing for three months in the sand, jogging expectantly beside an APC with his gun for a few days, only to be told it was “over.” But at least back then there had been a sense that something might happen. There was a sense of possibility. 

            Not anymore. 

            Possibility was but a popped balloon for Arwood. 

            And at the very moment they were all expected to go home, his company drew the shortest of short straws and they’d been deployed here to Checkpoint Zulu, 240 kilometers from the Kuwaiti border. He had no idea why. This time there was nothing to look forward to but peace. Endless, tedious, nondescript, fluffy-white peace. 

            You could eat a grenade, you really could. 

            It was into this stagnant vortex of quietude and forenothingness that a form approached Arwood from across the desert. 

            Like everything else in Iraq, it came at him sideways. 

            Arwood didn’t look. He sort of liked not knowing. Perhaps it was a guy wearing sandals who had a beard like Jesus. Or maybe it wasn’t a man at all. Maybe it was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come who was doing his rounds and was there to let Arwood know that ?— ?on account of global warming, acid rain, and El Niño, not to mention the global shortage of decent people and the high price of coal ?— ?Christmas was going to be canceled. 

            Whatever it was was getting bigger, which probably meant it was getting closer. It probably wasn’t something dangerous, though; it was approaching from this side of the ceasefire line. But it wasn’t going to be anything good, either. It wasn’t going to be one of Charlie’s Angels. It wasn’t going to be Daisy Duke. It wasn’t going to be Kelly LeBrock in her blue-and-white panties appearing out of red mist from a doorway. No, it was probably going to be orders. 

            A different mind, a different person, might have welcomed orders because it would have ushered in “change.” Not Arwood. The only thing worse than boredom was labor, and he didn’t want to wash anything, dig anything, move anything, stack anything, fill anything, load anything, unload anything, peel anything, or ?— ?and this was critical ?— ?smell anything awful. Given that he was twenty-two and a private, rather than, say, fifty and a nuclear physicist, all these things were on the shortlist of the possible. 

            No, he wasn’t going to look up. He would cherish the uncertainty for as long as he could. 

            Which fate had decided would end right .?.?. about .?.?. now. 

            “Want a cigarette?” asked a man who was now man-sized and to his right. 

            The man stood next to Arwood’s sandbags. Arwood considered them his sandbags, not so much because he was manning a machine gun behind them as because he was the one who had filled them. 

            Arwood accepted the cigarette by opening his mouth. The man placed it in and lit it. Arwood inhaled, grateful only that it gave him a pretext to keep breathing. 

            “I’m Thomas Benton,” the man said. 

            “Uh-huh.” 

            “What’s your name?” 

            “Arwood Hobbes.” 

            “Hobbes. Interesting name to take into a war zone.” 

            “Why?” 

            “No reason. Where are you from?” 

            “America.” 

            “Yes, I figured, given the uniform. Any place special?” 

            “Never felt like it.” 

            “I’m from a village in Cornwall,” Benton offered. 

            “I don’t know where that is.” 

            “Cornwall is in England.” 

            “That’s overseas, right?” 

            “Yes.” 

            Thomas Benton squatted down behind Arwood’s sandbags because it was cool and shady there. Benton looked across the desert to the still town a kilometer and a half away. 

            “You’re a journalist?” 

            “Yes. The Times.” 

            Arwood did ...

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: eBook

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780544706279

  • ISBN-10: 0544706277

  • Pages: 336

  • Price: $2.99

  • Publication Date: 01/03/2017

  • Carton Quantity: 1

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