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The Emerald Cave

The Emerald Cave (Ramsey Series Book 3) by [McPike, James]

The Emerald Cave by James B. McPike is a fast novel. It’s not fast in the sense that it’s a short read. Rather, The Emerald Cave works by having prose and plotting that takes readers for a whirlwind of a story that involves action, firefights, terrorists, heists, and a dozen other elements that contribute to an engaging and incredibly engrossing novel. Being the third in its series, The Emerald Cave follows the story of Vince Ramsey, an Israeli detective searching for an arms dealer whose whereabouts are murky at best. He enlists the help of April Fulton, an expert on historical artifacts, and the two set off on an epic investigative chase that brings them from one part of the world to the another, with obstacles and betrayal meeting them each step of the way. The book is fast, and it starts off with a tense standoff initiated by terrorists of the Hezbollah organization. From there, the plot takes no chances, pushing onward with a feverish speed that helps heighten the book’s sense of urgency and impact. This is juxtaposed by appropriately placed moments of quiet that allows both the characters and the readers to ponder on events as they unfurl.

Beyond these points, The Emerald Cave shines in its effective usage of characterization. The relationship between April Fulton and Vince Ramsey highlight a realistic dynamic that allows the two to play off one another. Sequences in which the two work together in solving a puzzle or identifying various clues reveal key differences in the characters’ logical approaches and methodologies that help make each character feel individual. In certain moments, I found myself working out these puzzles with April and Vince, identifying my own thought processes and “aha!” moments in conjunction with their own. At the same time, there is a clear sense of growth these two protagonists go through as the novel moves forward and while some trends are easy to note, this sense of maturity one finds is rare in many stories today. This characterization is aided by James B. McPike’s effective prose. Sentences are generally terse and filled with the details necessary for the story. Long, drawn-out sections are rare to find and each word McPike utilizes is one that is necessary for the story being conveyed. This helps create a tense atmosphere that works incredibly well with the fast plotting designed by McPike.

As a whole, The Emerald Cave by James B. McPike is an incredible story that doesn’t let up. Events fly at neck-breaking speeds while readers becoming connected with the protagonists as everyone tries to uncover the mysteries and secrets the story presents. While the story could have used some additional quiet moments in order to allow the reader to collect themselves before continuing onward, The Emerald Cove remains an engrossing piece. The stories narrative design and effective characterization makes this story an incredible journey and an enjoyable ride.

Pages: 215 | ASIN: B07DSRKWR1

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Review: Into Darkness by Richard Fox

Into Darkness 2star

Soldiers of Dragon Company are out on patrol in Iraq when they’re quickly ambushed by Al-Qaeda leaving two soldiers missing in action while the rest of the soldiers on patrol are left dead. Everyone in the army wants the perpetrators found, but the commanding officers want the two missing soldiers found quickly to save their careers rather than to help the grieving families. An ex CIA operative, Eric Ritter, is tapped to find the Al-Qaeda cell and missing soldiers. Moral lines are clearly drawn and Ritter crosses them several times through the novel leaving the question of, ‘who really is the bad guy?’ The ending of the novel offers little in the way of moral direction and serves to offer an even darker contrast to the novel, hence the title, ‘Into Darkness’.

There are several things that this novel does right. The essence of a soldiers life in Iraq is confidently captured down to the smallest detail. You can obviously tell that the author has been to Iraq and is calling on his own life experience. I rarely found any hiccups in the writing and dialogue flowed easily. The story switches back and forth between the US soldiers perspective and the perspective of the insurgents, but I felt like there were several chapters that didn’t move the story forward at all and could have been summarized and combined with other chapters to pick up the pace of the story. The only other issue I had with the novel is the misplaced focus of detail. An example, when an explosion goes off the author describes the event with a simple “BOOM!” There’s a missed opportunity here to paint a beautifully destructive picture of an explosion ripping through vehicles, people, and lighting up the night sky while in the next chapter were treated with mundane details of a briefing room layout that’s given an entire paragraph. Also, simple character movements and placement were given a hefty amount of real estate throughout the book, but I think this is normal for new authors as they decide what should be left to the reader’s imagination and what should be left out. For this being a military novel I felt that there was an awful lot of talking and maneuvering going on between the characters which might suit some readers that prefer dialogue over a straight up firefight. In the end, ‘Into Darkness’ truly captures the essence of a soldier’s deployment and deftly blurs the lines between good and evil.

Pages: 309
Published January 16th 2013 by Triplane Press
ISBN13: 9780991442911

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