This is probably the hardest book review I've ever done. Not because there aren't things I could say. There are, about the book's structure, style, content. But somehow the story line of the book makes all that seem somehow nitpicking, secondary and frankly pointless.
The book tells the true story of how three men were murdered in the Turkish town of Malatya on the 18th of April, 2007. These men were targeted because two of them worked for a publishing house and the third shared an office with the others. The publishing house was targeted because it publishes books about Christianity. The five murderers were caught red-handed - very literally - having trussed up their victims before torturing them with knives, then slitting their throats. Two of the victims died at the scene of the attack. The third died later in hospital.
The trial of the assailants has taken years, despite their being caught at the scene of the crime, four in the offices and the fifth unconscious on the pavement outside having leapt to try to escape the scene.
As far as I can ascertain, the assailants are under house arrest. The book portrays the events leading up to the murders as an example of religious fervour turning young men into murderous hotheads. The internet suggests larger and more political forces at work. Who knows. I think the hothead theory is much more plausible.
Writing from France certain comparisons are obvious. Millions of French people took to the streets to protest against the shooting of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. There has been no comparable public outcry at the bloody murder of the three men of Malatya.
But these are the dynamics of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus spoke in his day of those who prayed on street corners to be seen by men. "They have their reward", he said. "But when you pray do it in secret in the store-cupboard of your house, and your heavenly Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
The book is entitled "Martyrs of Malatya". People who are targeted, attacked, slaughtered simply for their Christian faith - and we know that there are many like that in this enlightened age of tolerance - are referred to as martyrs. It means "witnesses". People who testify by their death that they value Jesus Christ more than life itself.
I recommend this book. It is for us in our Western countries an extraordinary story. But for many in this world it is very, very ordinary. How we long for the day when men will no longer believe it is appropriate to kill in the name of their god. Or politics. Or money. Or ideology. Or...