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There is never a dull moment in Humphrey Hawksley’s Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – In Alaska. Not only is there intense action, the gripping story will keep readers glued to the pages until the story is done. This novel is carefully planned and executed in spectacular fashion and it’s hard not to feel the intensity with each sentence. We follow Rake Ozenna as he returns to his home island in Alaska with his fiancé in tow. Rake us a brilliant military veteran and Carrie Walker is a passionate doctor. The story begins with a medical concern over Rake’s niece struggling in childbirth and then explodes into a frontal assault between Russia and the United States of America some 48 hours before the inauguration of a new president.
This book explores the heighten tensions of looming war, the strain a relationship can undergo under such trying times, and the bonds that tie us to those we call family. Each of these themes is expertly crafted as if reading a biography of someone’s life. Characters change, for better or worse, but continue to develop as the story progresses. At first, it might seem overwhelming when readers realize just how intense the topics are that Hawksley is going to address. However, the humanity he affords his characters is genuine. Readers will feel an emotional connection to their fictional lives.
From start to finish Man on Ice is, I think, about risk; what is risked and what is gained. It’s a complicated matter, writing about politics, especially in such a sensitive time. There are so many people, positions, relationships to carefully lay out. Hawksley doesn’t seem to have a problem with weaving a complex narrative that is easy for readers to follow, even for those who may not be politically savvy. This is part of what makes such a great novel and shows readers what a good writer Hawksley is. the fine attention to detail is what gives away the rich research that went into this novel, and Hawksley does his best to be respectful to Eskimo culture and portray the reality these people face in the far north. He takes a hard look at the struggles these people are facing and doesn’t shy away from harsh comments on the reasons why they are in the place they are.
The pace is fast and the energy is high in Humphrey Hawksley’s Man on Ice: Russia vs the USA – In Alaska. It’s a tense situation with Russia threatening invasion while America wrestles with its new president-elect and the delicate touch that politics requires. It’s a journey of one man who has returned home for tender reasons and who leaves his home slightly broken. This book takes a look at the human condition and dances with the delicate relationships formed within. It starts off with darkness and trepidation yet a small piece of hope, only to descend into a flurry of agony and tough decisions. This is more than just a political thriller.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B079SG2VDG
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Slay the Dragon is an action-packed mystery about a man named Cesar Rosada. He is descended from a line of coffee farmers, a former professional athlete and now a rising politician with a single goal; to help the working class of his country. He is determined to fight for the rights of his people but there is one crisis he can not see a way out of, the opioid addiction. Working as the minister of finance he will stop at nothing to fight against corruption. This leaves him with a choice that will test his own morality.
This book was written by author Laura A. Zubulake who worked for years on Wall Street and is a frequent world traveler. She has written non-fiction before, but Slay the Dragon is her debut fiction novel. The prologue got my attention from the very beginning and is an engaging start to an intriguing novel that hits on a subject that is destroying families and individuals in America. Slay the Dragon does a fantastic job of using fiction to understand a complex problem, and helps you visualize the enormity of the opioid crisis today. I enjoyed how the world unfolds slowly, detail by detail, we get to piece together a seedy world reminiscent of the show Narcos. César’s character development reminds me of George R.R. Martin’s characters. They are characters changed, dramatically, by circumstances out of their control, and they’re just trying to adapt.
This story is exciting, dangerous, thrilling, and full of adventure. Cesar is the kind of character you can’t help but root for with his pure ideals and determination to help those around him. When his actions enter a moral gray area you can empathize. How do you find such entrenched corruption? Zubulake has written a world that feels real in its gritty depictions of South American politics.
From beginning to end this book held my attention and kept me guessing. This is definitely the book for you if you like political thrillers that leave you thinking long after you’ve closed the book.
Pages: 289 | ASIN: B07BH2VMNQ
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Point of Return by Lloyd Tosoff is an action thriller set in Great Britain. The story centers on a struggling, naive accountant Ian MacLeod and his entanglement with a murder conspiracy concocted by the Glaswegian underworld. He doesn’t become involved by choice because it is his friends who choose to mess with the Glasgow mob and their violent ways. He left the city, but after becoming an accountant, being in a loveless marriage, and losing his job, he ends up going back. He meets an old friend and a stranger when he arrives, and the mystery and conflict begin to envelop him as he realizes he has to fight for his life or lose it.
This novel is part of a “double novel” series, but Point of Return stands on its own as a snappy thriller that follows Ian Fleming’s Bond series. The first chapter begins with MacLeod still in Glasgow and his decision to leave the city, and then we jump eleven years into the future to when the real action starts, and the story picks up from there.
In many ways, Tosoff follows the regular beats for the unsuspecting hero to be swept up into a conspiracy and for a thriller, this trope is not a particularly unusual one. The real grit of Tosoff is how he chooses to have MacLeod deal with his past and personal connection to Glasgow instead. A victim of abuse at the hands of a violent stepfather, his inner demons come through in small bits and shapes his character. The reader is gradually introduced to these pieces of MacLeod’s past, and for the reader, it helps invest more of themselves in the narrative and our precarious hero.
The atmosphere and pacing do wonders for this book, which is critical for a thriller and Tosoff manages all of these elements quite well. The few times that the novel does become predictable it’s uniquely colored by MacLeod’s past struggles and how he faces them. I hope that his past conflicts come to a better resolution in the sequel, Vanquished, which takes place immediately following this novel, because I can’t wait to see what happens.
This novel is a perfect fit for fans of crime and spy thrillers, and fans of Ian Fleming may find a welcome new home among Tosoff’s pages.
Pages: 560 | ASIN: 1505533090
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In the latest Nick Grant adventure story the Japanese plot to steal the famous Hughes H-1 racer. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
Interesting, during the World War II, Howard Hughes got the opportunity to examine a captured Japanese A-6M Zero. He recognized several innovations he had incorporated into the H-1. Many years later, he told a story about a 1936 break in at his Culver City airport. The culprits ransacked the H-1 hangar and several blue prints were missing. The Japanese were never implicated. I took those snippets of story and wrote Nick Grant into the action.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write?
I enjoy writing the supporting characters as much as I do writing Nick. In each novel, I have introduced news characters – some good – some evil. In Black Dragons Attack my hands down favorite is Brian O’Malley. Without exception, the advance copy readers loved him. Those same early readers asked that I include Brian in future Nick Grant Adventures. Brian is a good hearted cowpoke who has a pivotal role in the story line. Cowboys and spies? An interesting combination that I hope my reader’s enjoy as much as I did crafting the story.
The Black Dragons are working for the Japanese Intelligence Service who are conspiring with the Third Reich in California. How did you develop this twist? Anything pulled from real life?
As a young military intelligence officer, the Army assigned me to the US Pacific Command, Oahu, Hawaii. Several of the old hands told me about their experiences before and during WW II. One retiring Army Counter Intelligence Agent spoke about a concerted espionage effort between the Japanese and Germans. A married couple, who were in fact German Spies, provided critical information to the Japanese prior to the December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Another spoke about and effort to steal US Communications codes. A third spoke about a effort in California to infiltrate US aircraft manufactures to steal advanced US technology. Much like the Chinese are doing to us today.
I understand that real people inspired this story. Who were those people and how did they impact you?
Once I saw bestselling author, Homer Hickam, of October Skies fame, wearing a T-Shirt emblazoned with the following: BE CARFEFULL – YOU MIGHT WIND UP IN MY NEXT NOVEL. I build my characters around people that I have known in my life. Some are blends of different individuals others are as I remember them but with cover names. As a career foreign intelligence officer I have known many people that would stretch the reader’s belief. One stands out in my mind, the senior intelligence officer of the Army’s Paratrooper Division, the 82d Airborne. Then Lieutenant Colonel Nick Grant – now Brigadier General (Retired) Grant was a huge influence on me. During down time on maneuvers he told me about his youth and burning desire to become a pilot. Like my character, Nick Grant actual comes from humble beginnings. He worked hard to achieve many things in his successful career. I modeled my Nick after General Grant’s steely eyed nerve, technical expertise, and strong desire to take the hard right instead of the easy wrong.
Book IV. The Black Dragons are back! After their last run in, Nick Grant believes his nemesis, Toshio Miyazaki, is dead. Determined to leave the spy games behind, Nick starts a new life as a Naval Aviation Cadet. During training, famous aviator and movie producer, Howard Hughes, lures Midshipman Grant into a mock dogfight. Afterwards Hughes offers Nick a pilot job. Nick’s college dreams stand in the way, and he turns Hughes down. However, their paths cross again in an unexpected way.
In 1936 the Black Dragons, working for the Japanese Intelligence Service, remain active in California and have a new partner, the Third Reich! Agents from both countries team up in their most audacious plan yet—steal the Hughes H-1 racer. Their plan—use the cutting edge technology to develop the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft.
The Japanese plan goes awry when US Naval Counterintelligence becomes aware of their activities. Commander Boltz assigns Nick and Senior Chief Ellis to guard the airfield until the FBI can take over. Together, they foil the Black Dragons’ attempt to steal the H-1 plans but the Japanese regroup with an even more sinister plan. They grab a hostage and demand that Nick deliver the H-1 technical plans and the Navy’s Top Secret Pacific War Plans.
When the Black Dragons attack, it’s up to Nick and friends to turn the tables, retrieve the stolen goods and a fabled katana. Join Nick Grant, Nancy Tanaka, and Leilani Porta in their latest adventure, Black Dragons Attack!
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Black Dragons Attack, the fourth installment in the Nick Grant Adventures series outdoes the high bar set by the previous adventures. This enthralling pre-World War II story features a superb cameo by American aviation hero Howard Hughes! Readers are transported to the nostalgic war era with the mind-blowing narrative by author Jamie Dodson. Nick Grant starts afresh as a Naval Aviation Cadet that leads to a chance encounter with Howard Hughes that changes the course of his life. Join Nick as he thwarts the Japanese plot to steal the famous Hughes H-1 racer along with his friends Nancy Tanaka and Leilani Porta for some edge of your seat entertainment.
Jamie Dodson has always delivered riveting story lines, perfect character development, amazing locales, and ultimately an exceptional climax – in short, each of Nick Grant’s adventures, be it Flying Boats & Spies, China Clipper, or Mission Shanghai or the latest offering Black Dragons Attack never fail to impress readers.
Set in 1936, Black Dragons Attack continues the Nick Grant saga as he believes his arch nemesis Toshio Miyazaki, is dead and starts afresh as a Cadet in the Naval Aviation Academy. It takes no less than a chance run in with the genius billionaire aviator and movie producer, Howard Hughes to lure Nick back into another deadly spy game.
The Black Dragons, working for the Japanese Intelligence Service, turn out to be secretly active and conspiring with a new partner, the Third Reich in California! As the Japanese hatch an elaborate plan to steal the Hughes H-1 racer to reverse engineer and build something even more advanced, US Naval Counterintelligence uncovers their activities. Nick is tasked with foiling the plans of the Japanese with the help of Nancy Tanaka and Leilani Porta.
As much as Nick impresses with his heroic show of patriotism and daredevilry, the Hughes H-1 steals the show with its sheer technological prowess and revolutionary functionalities that are years ahead of anything that existed in that era, precisely why the fascist regimes of Imperial Japanese and Nazis were so obsessed with it.
The setting of pre-world war II provides a poignant background wherein Jamie Dodson successfully manages to capture the mindset of people in a war torn country. Howard Hughes, albeit in a sort of guest appearance, manages to shine and awe the reader with his larger than life personality. The character sketches of Nancy, Leilani and Toshio are spot on and do justice to their role in the plot.
Overall, Black Dragons Attack, the fourth book in the Nick Grant adventure series is a pleasure to read.
Pages: 244 | ASIN: 1938667549
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Captive Threat is a genre-crossing novel with elements of espionage, mystery, and crime as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I began the novel with the basic plot and ending in mind but the plot got more complex and took unanticipated turns as the issues and characters developed. As a writer my view is you have to know where you’re going but keep an open mind as your characters and plot take on a life of their own.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. What was your inspiration for Wade’s character?
The Wade Hanna character as with most of my characters was inspired by real people I have known or worked with over a 40 year career as a forensic expert and having grown up in New Orleans. Each character takes on traits of different people I have known in the past.
What I enjoyed most in this story was the portrayal of complicated human emotions. What themes did you try to capture while creating your characters?
Much of the emotion in my characters comes from their unique personalities and how they interact under different levels of threat. The two main characters throughout the series are Wade Hanna and his co-agent and lover, Megan Winslow. Their relationship as agents often tests their personal relationship as lovers. In each novel I try to bring out the best or worst of their professional relationship and how that affects their personal relationship. Always ups and downs but in the end they are there for each other although not in the ways obvious to the reader. In many instances, Megan, for example takes the lead and can be stronger than Wade. She brings to bare a unique, tough feminine prospective to a clever, instinctive approach under the devious watchful eye of, Leo, the Black Ops commander.
This is the fifth installment in the Wade Hannah series and it leaves me wondering, where will Wade end up now?
Wade and Megan continue as a team in the sixth novel. Currently, I have two more novels planned for the couple as they continue their heart throbbing assignments while maintaining their personal relationship. The novels will venture on different types of assignments in different countries as they engage political espionage and mystery as they face an uncertain enemy and each other. Each novel will test character flaws of team members. Novel 6 has the added burden of Megan’s physical recovery from wounds suffered of her near-death experience in Captive Threat. Beyond the next two novels is unplanned and anybody’s guess. It may be another episode with these characters or an entirely new set of characters and plot. Stay tuned.
As the Vietnam War concludes an MIT professor, contracted to the NSA, leaks U.S. military secrets to the world. He is now America’s #1 traitor. Abducted by Soviet agents, he and his family are traded to North Vietnam.
Wade Hanna’s partner and lover, Megan Winslow, is forced into a witness protection program run by Army Intelligence. Haunted by PTSD flashbacks of her last mission Megan discovers she is being used as “bait” for another covert operation.
Escaping the witness protection program Megan finds sanctuary with Wade in the deep swamps of Louisiana. Wade is selected to head the mission to capture or terminate the #1 American traitor. To avoid being left behind in the swamp Megan must convince Wade she is fit for the new mission.
Wade’s covert intelligence team infiltrates the guarded jungle monastery where the professor is being held only to find their team is vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the opposition. Planned extraction of the target becomes impossible as Wade’s team faces imminent termination of the entire squad.
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Remember To Recycle explores a twisted state of dystopian society run rampant with political tension and censorship as experienced through the eyes of a sordid slew of characters. How did you decide on the starting point for this novel and how did that help create the rest of the story?
Thank you for asking. I based the novel on current reality based on in-depth study of foreign policy and traditional patterns of involvement by intelligence agencies who use propaganda to skew public opinion toward a military agenda.
I began the book inspired by the guys who go through my recycling bins to take what they can sell; I made a recycler character who has a clever scheme to take what he learns about the people in the neighborhood that way. The idea made me chuckle, and I wanted to see what kind of goofy brilliance he might display. I also had often joked around with a housemate about the empty buildings across the street which are owned by the church. We’d see people go in and never come out. I was also inspired by our jokes about the counter-intuitive business choices of the local ice-cream truck driver. The truck indeed broadcasts the recording of a scolding woman’s voice, just like in the novel.
Though entertainment is the ultimate point of the book, my main serious goal with the book is to balance the propaganda about the White Helmets, though characters in the United States who had hear the stories about a group like them on the nightly news or watch the Hollywood movie about them.
This novel follows the introduction to Nancy and her relationship to the Agents of the Nevermind in book one, Glossolalia. Nancy has done sordid things in her past, but she was forced into it. In this book, she’s again given the chance to be a hero and make amends for her role in political intrigue, even if it means using the dirty skills she was raised with. Some methods are so dirty, she hardly even lets herself know just how sordid she can be. But like all the other POV characters, she has a good heart.
I chose the beginning scene because it was cinematic, with the dramatic contrast arising from Nancy relaxing at her unusual dwelling, chuckling at the anomalous sound of the ice-cream truck that never seem to make any sales. That prepares us for dark humor in the book. She’s being startled by the loud sound of a hard snowball smashing the glass of the window beside her head. She puts on her costume when she realizes someone outside might be looking at her, so we see how she’s been living “underground,” hoping no one recognizes her, in a somewhat primitive location, but someone mysteriously is communicating with her.
She finds a painted rock inside the snowball and the image reminds her of herself and her one friend, a lovely artist named Becky. Nancy has followed another such anonymous note to lead her to Becky in the past. So that beginning creates questions about the dynamics of some major characters, as it sets in motion Nancy’s sleuthing, and involves the reader in the mystery.
I remember the excitement of thinking of the snowball, with ice-cream and a rock inside, at the beginning. Most of the book was already written, but that image created a colorful motif that I went back and inserted through the novel. It was gratifying the way it drew a lot of elements together.
You’re able to weave together the intricate lives of a ragtag group of characters. What themes did you want to capture while creating your characters?
I focused on the theme of the heroism of examining and exposing social engineering, and the difficult choices, nobility and sacrifice that can entail.
I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?
I appreciate that. I’ve been writing all my life, as well as studying the form, not only for my benefit but for my students, as I teach fiction writing and edit manuscripts. I’ve explored a variety of genres; psychological suspense, which is the overarching category all the diverse books in the series fall into, fascinates me because of human psychology making propaganda and other forms of deception easy and bewildering, creating the need for answers. I love the feeling of figuring out the answers to such mysteries, such a rush, a shudder. It’s the perfect genre to dramatize the ability of intelligence agents working behind the scenes to gaslight the public. So, I read and watch movies and TV shows in that genre a lot, to understand what works best. I’m always studying more about fiction and screenwriting techniques. I learn as much from the screen as the page, and organize my books like movies.
This is book two in the Agents of Nevermind series. Where will book three take readers?
It continues the theme of the Agents who combine deception, mind control, blackmail, and occult practices. I’ve been including history about that intersection in the books, returning to certain historical figures such as John Dee and Edward Kelley, and their use of Enochian language as a spy code as well as an attempt at magick.
The novel is called Encore, and is Gothic. A highly-acclaimed performance troupe has a special requirement to make their shows work: the audience can’t be aware if any of the actors are replaced by a standby (similar to an understudy.) Their resident hypnotist, Dune, who is rumored to be an Agent of the Nevermind, accomplishes that by hypnotizing the standbys to believe they’re the actors they’re mimicking, and even coat their own auras with the residuals of their actors.
His wife is the star, but must leave the troupe due to cancer. Her standby and Dune have strong chemistry. He kidnaps her while she’s hypnotized to believe she’s his wife, and takes her to an alchemist’s castle. Underlying the story is the real history of a few powerful countries’ competing mythologies meant to gain supporters for them in wartime.
I hope this book will move readers to appreciate themselves for who they are.
What if the homeless men going through your recycling know more about your life than you do? Like who is going to die. One of the recyclers, Dave, wearing disguises he keeps under a bridge, memorizes the information in people’s bins. He, like many others, idolizes the Rescuers, a supposedly neutral, unarmed humanitarian aid group in a Balkanized country, as the possibility of WWIII looms. The Nevermind Agents lie on the evening news to garner support for proxy wars. They say the Rescuers are unarmed, neutral, and giving humanitarian aid to a Balkanized country. Their movie about them is a blockbuster. Rescuer costumes are the bit hit for Halloween. But it’s time to unmask them. And that requires a plan so ingenious, even the planner can’t know how it’s done. Living not far away from Dave’s bridge, Becky donates generously to the Rescuers, making her finances even more insecure. She doesn’t know what to think when she finds things in her apartment moved slightly. The toothbrush is wet. There’s a stain on the ironing board. The cat food is nearly gone. Is it her imagination? Is someone messing with her mind? Could it be Stan, breaking in because he loves her? He certainly loves putting her body into mysterious BDSM contortions for their videos. But what’s that muffled moan she hears in the background when she calls him on the phone? Becky hires her friend to spy on Stan. The woman has gone underground since escaping from the Nevermind; she wears a wig, and a mask meant for burn victims. She has traveled across the country to befriend Becky, taking a chance on an anonymous message recommending she do so, though she doesn’t yet know the reason.
A Thriller for Thinkers
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Once again we are plunged into the world of Sean Kruger and his particular brand of justice in The Assassin’s Trail by J.C. Fields. While reading the first novel in the series is not necessary, it does provide excellent backstory for those who like to know everything. We follow Kruger once again as he gets pulled into another debacle. While he might groan about it, Kruger is excellent at his job and his reputation precedes him. With such greatness comes great expectations. Can Kruger deliver? Or will the case be his undoing? Hold on tight for a wild ride as we follow our favorite FBI special agent as he hunts down his prey. Fields shows us crime drama at its best: twists, turns and heightened anticipation for the good guy to win. The question then becomes, at what cost?
You can tell this is not Fields’ first time writing a book. A lot of attention and care went into the crafting of this story. A complication that can arise when writing a book in a series is losing track of subtle details and hoping your readers don’t notice. Happily, there is none of that in this installment of the Sean Kruger novels. The way Fields’ crafts the world of Kruger is deliberate and very well done. There is no shortage of action and readers will find themselves glued to the pages in order to find out what happens next. Some true crime stories can lag in the middle or when there is no action present making them almost a chore to read. You won’t find that here and even if crime drama isn’t your thing, this is a hard book to pass up. It’s not filled with useless jargon or procedures and policies only die-hard fans or those who work in the field can understand. This was truly a piece meant for the reader.
What makes a good story in this genre is suspense, action and realism. If the crime is too outlandish or the way the criminal is discovered is too unrealistic it can ruin the entire experience for the reader. Fields understands this and crafts the tale to reflect that. Readers will need to prepare their hearts for the twists and turns in this book as Fields’ expertly dangles disaster in front of us. There are no complaints about this easy to read and equally easy to enjoy story.
There is so much to gain and so little to lose from enjoying The Assassin’s Trail by J.C. Fields. The action is well paced and the story doesn’t suffer for it. The realism makes our main character, Sean Kruger, that much more relatable. While he is a special agent with the FBI he really just wants to enjoy his life. That is something we can all relate to. Kruger doesn’t seem able to catch a break on the work-life balance of things. Things will come to a grinding halt though as Kruger is faced with the greatest decision of his career. Is this the end of Special Agent Sean Kruger? You’ll have to read it to find out! You won’t be disappointed.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B01JAW1VI8
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Father Michael Kieh suffered the loss of his family in Liberia as a child. Taken in at a Catholic center for children, he went on to become a priest. Father Michael was stationed at the airport in London, listening to confessions of passing travelers. He became involved with a crime that happened years before involving some of the most powerful people in London, and found himself drawn into a very dangerous situation. Through love, loss, and love again, Father Michael navigates the difficult terrain in which he finds himself, trying to heal his past through his actions in the present and his hopes for the future.
This book ended up being one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in some time. I don’t read a lot of thrillers because I often find myself disappointed with how un-thrilling they turned out to be, but that was not a problem I had with A Burning In The Darkness. I was drawn in from the very first page, finding myself looking for stolen moments to sneak in a few more.
One quirk of the book is that it appears to have been written by a non-native English speaker, which left behind some stilted English. The first time I encountered it in the book I worried it was a bad sign, but on the contrary, I found that the mistakes in English made it quite charming, like listening to someone with an accent telling a story. Though there were some grammatical mistakes in it, on the flip side, much of the language was beautiful and parts of the writing were almost poetic. I found myself, more than once, reflecting on a beautiful turn of phrase.
I felt all of the characters in the book were well developed, and Father Michael was both sympathetic and borderline heroic. I had some strong feelings about nearly every character that appears in the story, and that’s not always an easy task to accomplish. A.P. McGrath did a wonderful job breathing life into each person in the novel, giving them their own personalities and making them deeply likable, or deeply detestable, driving the story forward with strong character development.
If I have one complaint about the story itself, it’s that everyone was perhaps a little too charmed by Father Michael. It seemed that everyone he met fell under his spell right away, and that seems rather too neat for me. I felt as though it was too easy for him to convince the right people to trust him and to help him.
All in all, I found this to be an addictive book. So much so that I was sad to say goodbye to the characters at the end and wish there was a sequel. This is my first exposure to A.P. McGrath’s work, but I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the next novel!
Pages: 253 | ASIN: B06ZYXJ1KL
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