Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 60-65,000
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DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator and wolf expert. He lives in Northern Kentucky. His works of short fiction and poetry have been published in a number of magazines.
DJ also writes novels – Maggie Elizabeth Harrington won a literary competition and was followed by Children of the Enemy and Alpha Wolves.
You can read more about DJ Swykert on his website.
Jude St. Onge is a drug addict who thinks he’s onto the deal of his life when he steals a bag of drugs from heavyweight dealer, Mitchell Parson. But whilst fleeing Jude’s car breaks down. By chance he seeks refuge with Ray Little, a brooding junkyard owner and ex-con.
Parson’s fixer, a brutal Haitian called Swallow, is sent out by Parson to track Jude down. Swallow tortures and then kills Jude’s wife, Ariana. He kidnaps Jude’s daughter, Angelina, who was forced to watch her mother’s hard death, so he can use her as leverage to ensure Jude returns the drugs.
Swallow’s plan works, but not everything goes right for Jude. Ray swears he will rescue Angelina and, with the help of story hungry local reporter Ted Rogers, he goes about the task in single minded and lethal fashion.
If I was going to describe this book with one word it would be ‘argh!’ If I was allowed a second it would be ‘yuck’.
To elaborate a little, I found this book by turns frustrating and overtly graphic. First, the frustration. Children of the Enemy started out well enough, with a strung out Jude losing control of his car and coming across the complicated and enigmatic Ray in his moment of need. However, the story soon slowly went off the rails and by the latter quarter I’d had enough, primarily due to the writing style where dialogue and sometimes description was repetitive, meandering and unrealistic. For example:
“I want to do what’s right, Ray. But I don’t want to do something I’ll regret later.”
“The way I see it we either regret doing something or we regret doing nothing. Either way we end up living with regret. I’d rather regret what I did than regret what I didn’t.”
And on occasion the characters kept going over the same ground, for example (in a much, much shortened outline):
“Is he gonna make it?” McCants asked.
“…He must have one of the hardest heads on earth to still be alive. He shouldn’t be alive, but he is, and most likely he’s gonna survive…” Dr Litton said.
“Then you think he’s gonna recover…?”
And sometimes just downright clunky:
“I think all rich people are crazy. They do crazy shit and they get into crazy shit. What you have going on here is rich people crazy shit…” And so on.
Maybe it’s just me not taking to the author’s style, but after wading through what must have been in excess of one hundred of these types of lines I tired of it.
The second element was the graphic description of torture, drug use and sex on which I will barely dwell. I’m not the squeamish sort, but personally having to read about a fourteen year old girl having her finger chopped off was just too much. And that was by no means the end of it…
Graphic torture scene, liberal violence and murder, drug use and strong language. Not for the faint hearted.
A few typos and format errors.
Rating: ** Two stars