Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 16-17,000 words
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Thom Tate lives with his spouse and two children north of Atlanta, Georgia. This is one of a planned series of shorter spy thrillers planned, each featuring Blake MacKay.
“While tracking down a missing nuclear Physicist, Dimitri Evanko, Blake uncovers a devistating plan by the Islamic Terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. When a plan to rescue Evanko and his family backfires, the terrorists fast forward their destructive plan of terror. In the shadows of an impending disaster, Blake finds himself and Dimitri in a race against time with the lives of thousands on the line.”
This spy thriller novelette is a quick read with a plot that had a lot of promise. However, in the end, the story didn’t work for me. Some of this was the writing, giving too much detail at times, possibly not enough at others, and giving the reader information that is needed, but in a less than optimal or entertaining way in other situations.
An example of a few of these issues is the introduction of Hadi Lie, a significant character (although not the protagonist). The reader had been briefly introduced to this character previously. Although we didn’t know much about him, we did have a reasonable understanding of his role. Then we start Chapter 5 with an info dump about Hadi’s back story. Specifically his past work history. It isn’t that much (a paragraph just over 150 words), but it does very little to move the story forward and has detail that goes beyond the needs of the reader to understand the character. Were this a novel, some of this might have been valuable to understand the character. However, in shorter works, too much detailed back story only bogs the story down. Even if this information was needed, doing it as an information dump isn’t the way to go. For example, this paragraph is followed by a conversation between Hadi and Blake. At the end of that conversation Blake could have asked Hadi about his history. Since they’ve never worked together before, this would seem natural and would be a chance to get some of his back story on the record. This same issue (with information dumping) happened with other characters as well, including Blake, the main character, early in the story.
I also thought the climax of the story was a combination of unbelievable and too predictable. I know, that seems to be contradictory. Without spoilers, it is hard to explain. I can say that when the story reached that point there seemed to be only one way for it to resolve (the predictable part), but to get to that ending and (it seemed to me) in an unsuccessful attempt to ratchet up the tension, several obstacles were put up between our hero and success. I didn’t believe either the obstacles or the hero’s actions to get there.
Last, for a book of this size, there were too many copy editing and proofing issues.
Too many editing issues, IMO, for a book of this length.
Rating: ** Two stars