Moonlight Hotel
Scott Anderson
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Moonlight Hotel
Scott Anderson
384 pages
May 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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Click here to read reviewer Wayne Adam's take on Moonlight Hotel.

In a world recently aware of the rapidly escalating nature of war, Moonlight Hotel, although set in the 1980s, is familiar terrain. A group of diplomats and businessmen trapped in a country, in this case the former British colony of Kutar, a former British colony, is suddenly plunged into an insurrection.

David Richards, a mid-level diplomat in Laradan, Kutar, is adept at his work and enjoys an extensive social life, sending regular missives to the State Department on events in the region. His friends include a senior British diplomat and his wife and children, an assortment of female travelers, and the usual mix of businessmen looking for opportunities.

When there is secret activity in the north, the city of Laradan is caught in the middle, the port in the south unaware that trouble is brewing. The usual bureaucrats and seemingly inept military officials continue to misread the signs of unrest, a rebel insurgency in the north that cuts off all outside congress, leaves innocents massacred and compels all foreigners to leave at once.

Isolated in Laradan with no idea when or if aid will come, the disparate group gathers at the Moonlight Hotel, a dilapidated structure whose owner envisioned better days of tourism and commerce. Only a few remain: Richards; Nigel Mahew, the British diplomat; Stewart McBride, an American journalist; Paolo Alfani; and Amira Chalesani, an aristocrat who has so far spurned Richards’ advances.

The military blunders continue under the direction of American Colonel Munn as the besieged stragglers cling to the hope of rescue. Their situation grows increasingly dire, hostage to the whims of the insurgents: “This was a place where money held greater sway than God or politics, where harmony was largely a matter of self-interest.”

Reveling in their new-found power, the rebels are all the more dangerous for the unpredictability of the circumstances, far more creative and resourceful than expected, cutting the group off from communication with the rest of the world.

The easy commerce of a remote city in an exotic locale fraught with danger in the sudden turn of events puts Davis to a test far beyond anything he could have imagined - eventually imprisonment by the rebels. He resorts to desperate measures to survive in the hopes of seeing Amira again, yet is resigned to his fate.

This Middle Eastern kingdom is charged with menace, the landscape changing from enterprise, diplomacy and social intercourse to complete chaos, from idyllic to nightmarish in a few short days - an adventure become an unpredictable exercise in terror.

Part love story, part escape-from-peril, Moonlight Hotel blends personalities and cultures in an ensemble of mixed agendas and temporary hubris, from “tribals to terrorists to liberators in less than six months.” geopolitical expedience the order of the day.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2006

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