I've met Hendrix Harrison. In the event you’ve yet to meet him, I'd suggest you remedy that situation by reading Generation by William Knight.
Harrison's a writer for Strange Phenomena, a magazine that keeps their readers in the know on ghosts, werewolves, conspiracies, bigfoot, and all things fringe. Harrison's military past didn't exactly pave the way for a career as a journalist, but Strange Phenomena isn't exactly your mainstream media outlet. To complicate matters, Harrison isn't exactly what you would call technologically savvy. In fact, he actually shuns technology while trying to do his job with credibility and integrity.
All things aside, Harrison is facing turbulent times.
Then he’s sent on a minor assignment by his editor – follow up on some reader reports of, you guessed it strange phenomena. The assignment turns out to be a bust, or so Harrison initially thinks; however, as the dust starts to settle where there was nothing, Harrison sees the potential for a story. A big story.
Strange things are afoot in the English countryside. People have been seeing ghosts, shades, creatures – exactly what no one knows. Harrison runs down lead after lead. Ultimately he finds himself at a body farm run for research purposes to better help criminologist understand how to solve future unexplained deaths based upon how cadavers decompose under a variety of different conditions.
All of the cadavers come from various medical facilities across the land primarily as a result of the deceased’s donating their bodies to science.
Then things take a turn for the worse.
The large, all powerful Mendel Pharmaceuticals rears their mighty head. In a nutshell, Mendel has created the drug to end all drugs. They have Re-Gene, a treatment that conceptually could make a person live forever. They plan on making millions, nay, billons. All that stands in their way is the announcement of the drug, well, that and the fact that those who take it continue to live as their bodies die around them. The result is something that could only be described as markedly less appealing than a zombie. Imagine wanting to die and not being able to.
Slowly the conspiracy starts to unravel with Harrison who is aided by the talented, yet skeptical research scientist Dr. Sarah Wallace, at the vortex.
Knight takes you on a ride you won’t soon forget.
Generation is a face-paced book that keeps you guessing. All too often thrillers such as this follow a set formula that can be all too predictable. Knight did a great job in keeping me guessing in such a way that as situations resolved themselves I was compelled to turn the page in a hurry to see what happened next.
I was also quite drawn to the characters, all of who were developed quite well by Knight. I am universally disappointed when a character is larger than life with no flaws or weaknesses. It would have been easy for Knight, given Harrison’s military background, to have made him a super soldier who was able to summon the one man military might of the British Empire to bear on the situation; however, Harrison is just an average Joe who is caught up in a difficult situation. The most endearing quality he possess is that he realizes this and lets this redouble his efforts to make things right.
This realistic approach pervades all of the characters and the story as a whole all the way to a very satisfying ending.
I will say that in total I would classify Generations as more thriller or suspense rather than horror. I never had any spine tingles while reading it, but on more than one occasion I found myself on the edge of my seat, eager to see what happened next.
I also found it refreshing reading a book written by a non-US writer. The book was set in the UK and the dialogue, the slang, the colloquialisms, all with a definite British slant.
Overall, I was quite taken with this book. Generations would appeal to fans of suspense or the thriller genre. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. One word of caution; however, you’ll be ready to read William Knight’s next book as soon as you finish Generation.
I read a lot.
That being said one of the consequences is I get stagnant with what I have on the horizon for future reads. From time to time I'm lucky enough to find a new author. I consider myself extremely lucky if I happen to discover a writer with more than one book in print.
Such is the case with Mike Lawson. Lawson writes thrillers set in DC. While he has clearly spent some time in our nation’s capital, he wasn’t a politician, rather he's a nuclear engineer who's made a very successful transition to writing. Things get more interesting when you add to the equation that Lawson lives in the Pacific Northwest, about as far away as one can get from DC and still be in the lower 48. However, this doesn’t stop Lawson from crafting some quality fiction.
Lawson grabs, and keeps, the reader’s attention from the start in The Inside Ring. In the first few pages we have the attempted assassination on the President of the United States.
While on a holiday in the Georgia mountains with a life long friend, an assassination attempt is made on the life of the President. Quickly the FBI starts an investigation and in short order finds a local resident has committed suicide. A search of his home turns up a trove of evidence, including the weapon used in the shooting, and thankfully the matter is brought to a speedy conclusion.
However our main character, Joe DeMarco, is soon summoned to the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. DeMarco is a non-practicing, recently divorced attorney. It turns out his family history (one that Lawson explores) kept him from the more traditional legal practice areas. However, a few favors later (again Lawson does a great job with the background on this aspect of the story) DeMarco ends up working for the Speaker of the House. He's not your traditional house staffer rather he's a fixer. He even has an impressively vague title, "Counsel Pro Tem for Laison Affairs." DeMarco’s normal cup of tea is getting the Speaker the support where and when he needs it to move his agenda through the maze of our Nation’s democracy.
However, it turns out the Speaker has concerns the assassination attempt may not have been so cut and dry as the FBI believes. He has DeMarco look into the entire affair starting with a disturbing message received by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The note gives the concern that the President’s inner circle of Secret Service agents, his “Inside Ring,” has been compromised.
One may wonder how and why a non-practicing attorney who works primarily as a fixer for a politician would have the skills to investigate an attempt on the life of the President, particularly when conspiracy at the highest levels of government may be involved. The answer, and it's the same answer Lawson sets out, is that DeMarco doesn't have the background for this and, more importantly, he knows it. It turns out DeMarco may not be a lot of things, but he is resourceful and knows when to call in help which is a good thing. He’ll need it as he finds himself deeper and deeper in a web of intrigue that becomes infinitely more complicated with every step DeMarco takes.
One of the most refreshing things Lawson does is keep every aspect of the story genuine. The dialogue is crisp, the characters are interesting and Lawson succeeds in imparting a degree of humanity to everyone you meet in the book. This is not to say that every person in the Inside Ring is a saint – quite the contrary, but the characters behave in a believable fashion.
At the center of all of this is a very enjoyable plot. I was a bit worried that I was going to be reading a book where our everyman hero, a hero of limited ability, is called upon to save the world. Fortunately that’s not the case here. Lawson starts out and keeps you guessing at every turn. Despite the surprises and the unforeseen twists and turns, Lawson doesn't have to revert to a suspension of disbelief to reach the book's climax – and what the surprise ending it is.
I've already started the second book in the DeMarco series and will post a review about it when I've finished. Given the speed with which I read the Inside Ring, I imagine that I'll have this up soon. I try to keep in tune with quality new writers, but I’m clearly a late comer to the game when it comes to Lawson. Do yourself a favor if you haven’t read his work yet. Go grab Inside Ring and you’ll likely be hooked.
Fans of thrillers with a swift plot and engaging characters will enjoy his book. Fair warning however, you will not want to put it down once you start.
If I am being completely honest, which I generally prefer to be, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Doxology by Brian Holers.
Also being honest, while incredibly well written, the book started in an interesting fashion. It wasn’t slow, it wasn’t bad, it was just, for lack of a better term, sort of disjointed. Normally when I start a book that begins in such a fashion, I set it aside and don’t finish it. However with this book while there was this scattered element, the writing was as sharp as I have seen in sometime. The characters I was being introduced to were compelling and, despite my initial thought that I might end up not finishing the book, I decided to be patient and read on.
My patience (and I should note it didn’t require much) was soon rewarded.
I read a number of genres but generally prefer fiction that provides a glimpse into the world of people I may know, people I grew up with – people to whom I can relate.
Doxology did just this.
Holers ushers us into a world of family, where the blood that binds is the strongest and most important thing going. Even when many years have passed since family members have interacted, or even seen each other, the blood that binds them allows them to pick up where they left off. However, starting again is not always an easy task. As the family, primarily two generations of brothers, renew their relationship, the demons of the past return to haunt them. Through his tale Holers gives the reader a glimpse of the family history to show how the present has come from a difficult past.
His sense of character is as solid as I have seen. As I learned more and more about each character, I found nothing that seemed out of place. I also found myself identifying with each character, feeling their pain, their hope and in many instances their frustration.
Many times when I read new writers the characters often come across as forced or a product of a writer who worked too heard to make them larger than life. There was none of that in Doxology, rather each and ever character, particularly the main characters, were pristine. This allowed me to feel as if I was standing along side them on the page as the story unfolded.
If you are a fan of literary fiction, specifically Southern literary fiction, you need to read Doxology as soon as possible.
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