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The Girl in Green
     

The Girl in Green

5.0 2
by Derek B. Miller
 

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From the author of Norwegian by Night, a novel about two men on a misbegotten quest to save the girl they failed to save decades before

1991. Near Checkpoint Zulu, one hundred miles from the Kuwaiti border, Thomas Benton meets Arwood Hobbes. Benton is a British journalist who reports from war zones in part to avoid his lackluster marriage

Overview

From the author of Norwegian by Night, a novel about two men on a misbegotten quest to save the girl they failed to save decades before

1991. Near Checkpoint Zulu, one hundred miles from the Kuwaiti border, Thomas Benton meets Arwood Hobbes. Benton is a British journalist who reports from war zones in part to avoid his lackluster marriage and a daughter he loves but cannot connect with; Arwood is a midwestern American private who might be an insufferable ignoramus, or might be a genuine lunatic with a death wish—it's hard to tell. 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 and are offered an unlikely opportunity to redeem themselves when that same girl in green is found alive and in need of salvation. Or is she? 
 
 
 
 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 11/14/2016
Miller’s second novel (after Norwegian by Night) is 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. Private Arwood Hobbes and Brit reporter Thomas Benton witness the slaughter of Shiite civilians by the Iraqi army and cannot prevent the cold-blooded murder of a young girl in a green dress. The experience haunts both men for years, but 22 years later, in 2013, shocking news footage of an insurgent attack in Iraq reunites the two men in a desperate and risky gambit to save a girl in a green dress shown in the video. Middle-aged Hobbes is energized to right an old wrong, and old, slow Benton is reluctant to get involved. Amid the dangerous Syrian, Iraqi, and Kurdish refugee crisis in northern Iraq, Hobbes and Benton team up with a U.N. refugee officer, but the men are captured by ISIL terrorists, beginning a deadly cat and mouse game of torture, intimidation, and negotiation. Benton doesn’t understand Hobbes’s obsession with the girl in the video or the unique skills he’s gained since 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. (Jan)
From the Publisher
"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 Operation Desert Storm. A provocative engagement with US foreign policy is matched to rich and multifaceted characterization .”The Independent (UK)
  
“Miller’s second novel arrives at an opportune time. As the United Kingdom digests the findings of the Chilcot Enquiry, The Girl in the Green takes us back to the first Gulf War – Operation Desert Storm. Then, through the eyes of its three main protagonists, we see the aftermath. It’s quite a shift in setting for Derek B. Miller – his excellent first book was set in Norway – but he pulls it off with aplomb. No second novel difficulties here…. The Girl in Green is one of those books that will definitely stay with you a long time after you’ve closed its covers .”Crime Fiction Lover (UK)

A stunning contemporary thriller .”—Thriller Books Journal (UK)

“Told with a dash of derring-do and not a little bit of absurdist humor akin to Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, The Girl in Green is ultimately a powerful, in fact stunning novel. Set in the current wars somewhere in Iraq and Syria with ISIL as a menacing backdrop our characters try to right a decade’s long wrong with few resources - motivated by powerful feelings at first crushing, then redemptive.   What a great way to tell a complex story – beguile us with charm as we enter a world rent with danger, heartbreak and confusion we westerners can hardly imagine. This book is engrossing, important and left me cracked open for many long moments after pondering the miasma that is the Middle East and also the efforts it takes to make and keep relationships alive – period.... I was even more moved by this novel than Derek’s first one.”—Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s

"Before publishing Norwegian By Night Derek Miller worked in international affairs for over twenty years. In his new novel he calls upon his wealth of knowledge and experience to give us another emotionally moving thriller that looks at Iraq and the mess The West has made in the Middle East in the last twenty five years (and more). Miller makes what many say is too complex to understand and puts it in a context that is clear, precise and telling without ever being simple...Like Norwegian By Night, another writer could have taken this story in a variety of directions and delivered a completely different kind of novel but Miller cuts through the rhetoric and the cynicism and gets to the heart of what is happening in our world at the moment . A heart that, while it is full of conflict, is also full of hope. Miller manages to convey all this to the reader in a page-turner that is both funny and sad, intelligent and full of hope. This is a must read from a writer of extreme talent and compassion."—Jon Page, Pages & Pages Booksellers (Australia)
Library Journal
★ 12/01/2016
In 1991 Iraq in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, British journalist Thomas Benton encounters Arwood Hobbes, a young American infantryman. Helpless to intervene, they witness an Iraqi colonel murder a girl in a green dress. Twenty-two years later a video gone viral shows a girl in a green dress possibly surviving a mortar attack in Iraq. This reunites the two men in a search for the girl and some sort of redemption. Benton, now 62, is weary of his life and marriage; Arwood, 44, is now an arms dealer with global contacts. Seeking information through relief organizations, refugees, and rebels, they pursue this elusive girl through treacherous territory. As in his first novel, Norwegian by Night, Miller portrays an attempt to save one person as atonement for not having saved another. His 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. Arwood, like Joseph Heller's Yossarian in Catch-22, abhors authority; Benton learns to love again in the midst of appalling inhumanity. VERDICT Not to be missed, this is a compelling combination of literate storytelling and action-packed thriller laced with humor. [See Prepub Alert, 7/18/16; library promotion.]—Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-10-05
Haunted by a Saddam Hussein henchman's coldblooded execution of a young Shiite girl, British war reporter Thomas Benton and ex–GI Arwood Hobbes reunite in Iraq 22 years later to investigate the unlikely possibility that she is alive.The unlikely duo first meet in 1991, during the uneasy cease-fire following the first Gulf War. The 22-year-old Hobbes is on patrol at Checkpoint Zulu, 150 miles from the Kuwaiti border. Benton is on the prowl for unsanctioned information about ongoing conflicts. During an attempt to rescue Benton from a dangerous situation in a nearby town, the fearless (and feckless) Hobbes spots a frightened girl in a green dress and tries to get her out of harm's way as well. But a Baathist colonel, with Hobbes' gun pointed at his head—and in full view of U.S. soldiers—shoots her in the back. After beating up a lieutenant who berates him for daring to get involved in local matters, Hobbes is sent home without honor. Benton returns to an unhappy home life in England following a meaningful one-night fling with Märta, a sexy and stoic Swedish relief worker. In 2013, out of the blue, Hobbes invites the now-63-year-old reporter to join him in Kurdistan, convinced he saw their girl in green on Al Jazeera escaping a mortar attack. Her existence, or lack thereof, speaks to the fact that everything has changed in Iraq, and nothing has changed. The new emerging threat is ISIS, but the same grudge fights are being fought, scores of innocents are still on the run, and Westerners like our heroes are still getting abducted. 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544706255
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
01/03/2017
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
203,348
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Educated at Georgetown, Oxford, and Geneva, DEREK MILLER has worked on international peace and security for think tanks, diplomatic missions, and the United Nations. The Girl in Green is Miller’s second novel, following the international and award-winning Norwegian by Night. 
 

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The Girl in Green 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
cloggiedownunder 10 months ago
The Girl in Green is the second novel by American novelist and international policy specialist, Derek B. Miller. It’s late March 1991, and United States Army Private Arwood Hobbes is at the northern edge of Checkpoint Zulu, “maintaining a vigilant perimeter” in Iraq’s newly-brokered peace, when a British journalist from the Times wanders up. Thomas Benton is a seasoned war correspondent who’s after the story from a local perspective. With some encouragement from Arwood, he walks toward nearby Samawah, intent on interviews and ice cream. A surprise attack sees Hobbes and Benton trying to rescue a villager, “the girl in green”, but the situation somehow ends badly, leading to their removal from the area and an eventual “other-than-honourable” discharge for Hobbes. Fast forward twenty-two years, when a lingering feeling of guilt and a YouTube clip see Hobbes and Benton once again trying to rescue “the girl in green”. Is it human design or divine intervention that sees the original players of the drama and its aftermath gathered together again? Their mission is surely insane and bound to fail! As with Norwegian By Night, Miller gives the reader an original plot with plenty of action, a twist or two, and a thrilling climax. Generous doses of tension are relieved by the banter between the characters, which is often blackly funny. Miller’s characters are wholly believable and, for all their quirks and very human flaws, especially appealing. Miller’s considerable personal experience in both conflict zones and policy making is apparent on every page and he raises several thought provoking topics, including the intricate coordination and extensive diplomatic skills required in hostage negotiations, the crazy Catch 22 in the Department of Veteran Affairs that exists for veterans needing psychological counselling, the failure of foreign organisations to become familiar with the language, politics and customs of the countries they are purporting to aid, and the fate of national staff of NGOs when their employers withdraw due to escalating hostilities. Miller gives the reader a novel that is topical and highly relevant in today’s world. Fans of Norwegian By Night will not be disappointed with Miller’s latest literary foray and will be hoping for more from this talented author soon. The Girl in Green is exciting, insightful and entertaining: another brilliant read.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Being a part of the military community I did lose sleep over this book. However it was worth the time to see an author really connect with the raw emotions of experience that our military agrees to upon enlistment.