The Girl in Green

By Derek B. Miller

Faber and Faber

The Girl in Green is the follow-up to Derek B. Miller’s chilly award-winning thriller, Norwegian by Night. The action begins in Iraq, at the end of the first Gulf war, in 1991. Bored American soldiers witness a supposedly defeated Saddam Hussein viciously suppress anyone (especially Kurds and Shias) who might launch a revolution against him. When one of Saddam’s colonels murders a young girl wearing a green dress, two Westerners are transformed by the atrocity: an American soldier, Arwood Hobbes, and a British journalist, Thomas Benton. Two decades later, Hobbes glimpses a second girl in green during a news broadcast of refugees under mortar attack in Syria. He returns with Benton to find a region fractured into bitter sectarian factions, weary and resigned aid workers, and an entire gener­ation being decimated or cast adrift. The exciting, elegantly constructed narrative employs repeated motifs, scenes and charac­ters to draw parallels between the current crisis in Syria and the first Gulf war. If the coinciden­ces are occasionally a little too contrived, the overall effect is powerful and sobering. The charismatic, provocative Hobbes is a fine creation: fearless, driven and passionate. The show is almost stolen by the girl in green, who finally finds her voice and expresses the devastation laying waste to her homeland.