E/view: Come Barbarians

Popular Edmonton author Todd Babiak brings his readers to the south of France for a harrowing thriller that mingles crime, politics, and vengeance in Come Barbarians

By Paula E. Kirman

Todd Babiak's 'Come Barbarians.'
COME Barbarians surprised me on a number of levels. It is the first novel I have ever read from Edmonton’s Todd Babiak (name dropping time: we volunteered at The Gateway at the University of Alberta around the same time) and from what I know of his previous novels, his subject matter tends to be local and often humorous.

Not so with Come Barbarians. Set in France, it is a dark thriller with Christopher Kruse at its centre. Kruse is heart broken after losing his young daughter Lily to a drunk driver. Shortly after the accident, the accused his wife are dead and Kruse’s wife is missing (and accused of their murders). Kruse makes it his mission to find his wife and prove her innocence. However, he also has to go within himself to confront demons from his past.

What follows is an often gruesome journey involving politics, racist organizations, and organized crime. If you have a weak stomach, you might have to skim through some of the scenes which are amongst the most gory I have read in a long time. The story moves at a very fast pace, yet there is excellent character development and a good explanation of Kruse’s past, which becomes central to the story.

Even still, I had trouble fathoming why Kruse was going through so much harrowing trouble to solve this mystery. He was only in France because of his wife as part of an attempt to save their failing relationship, and once she and their daughter are gone he doesn’t really have any strong attachments to the country. When things were shot to hell, he could have just left and gone back to Canada. However, people who enjoy suspense will be thankful he stuck around, because it makes for a rather exciting read.

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