Never Going Home ISBN: 9780692862759, TFC published, an e-book by Brian Barton.
Plot: Clay, a middle-aged Pilot Captain for RASH Airlines ‘freezes’ just prior to takeoff and his First Officer Matt Blancando (HazMatt), saves them and the plane full of passengers but damages the craft on the emergency landing. The two are grounded during the investigation. The reader then is introduced to Katrina, Petrova and Sumito Goldberg who are involved in a terrorist-like attack on a Rash installation and further learn that they are in the process of establishing a new airline seemingly using the same routes. The story gradually proceeds with further information about the plot, the principals involved and the ultimate results, but mostly the story is centered on the protagonist and his confused life that yields a most complicated story. He is frustrated because he cannot rise to a Senior Captain position where he can pretty much control his own fly time, routes, etc. However, the reader also is aware that he is an intensely psychologically disturbed individual (as witnessed by his takeoff meltdown). His only friends are HazKatt and Plim, “the only retired lesbian type rated Captain in Manhattan” who lives with her significant other, practicing lawyer Randala. HazMatt tells him that many of their colleagues wonder about his sexual orientation although he and his acquaintances participate in sexual activities with mostly bar pick-ups on their various lay-overs. However, he does explain; “I find needy women attractive because they cherish me and greet me with a smile. They help me ditch my unhealthy impulses by showing me something worth doing. But my helping cycles are enervating, and I realize I can’t put a Band-Aid on the world.” This statement pretty well sums up his constant loneliness, feeling of isolation, insecurity, fear of people, episodes of crying, and panic attacks, the source of which are provided only late in the book as are a cursory ‘wrap-up’ of the entire story.
Discussion: The author has presented the rather pathetic story of an extremely mentally disturbed protagonist, and has done so quite well, in the rather disordered manner such a person’s mind would function. The idea of such presentation is commendable, but in this reviewer’s opinion makes following the story line more difficult; e.g. such activities as purchase of an illegal pistol with no obvious reason or intent provided. It also is difficult to accept as fact that such a person could pass the mental portion of a commercial pilot’s frequent testing procedures. Additionally, the gathering of the story’s concluding ‘loose ends’ pf the terror attacks’ seem to be shuffled together quickly as an afterthought simply as a means of providing a closing to this part of the story.
3* At most, for good portrayal of mentally disturbed person.
Hush Child, Kindle Direct Publishing, a mystical, spiritual, mystery of a somewhat allegorical nature by David Halverson.
Plot: The tenure of the story is set with a quote from Malachi 5:4-6: “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents: or else I will come and strike the earth with a curse.” The story then opens with a man whose face is marred with distinctive scars placing his hand on the prostitute’s shoulder and saying “She will be named Anna. I will return when she is eleven.” He leaves, drives his Jeep from Manhattan to a West Side high-rise apartment where he moves to his balcony and begins taking pictures with a high-powered camera of an adjacent apartment. The view is of a woman, man and young girl sitting at the breakfast table. It is the girl Mara’s 5th birthday. In the next chapter the reader finds the disgruntled teen Mara glancing at the clock and deciding to leave a restaurant because someone had not shown. She passes a vagrant who “gawps” at her and asks “Are you Mara?” and follows with “You look just like your mother.” He is late for their meeting, persuades her to return to the restaurant and he continues that his name is Judah and had been married to her mother Cora, and would explain why he had lost touch. From this point the story unfolds as we follow this man who had been incarcerated for eight years and until now had not discovered anything worth sobering up for until this daughter becomes the 25th victim of a serial kidnapper/killer. He along with Summer Durand, a street smart detective, embarks upon attempting to find her along with Summer’s own daughter who also becomes a victim. Along the way, Judah becomes a ‘born again Christian’ and the tale gradually expands to involve numerous other characters. Some are victims, others, many in high official positions, enter the story and the author additionally expounds on many factors including involvement in the moral state of existence as encountered in today’s society, a look at humanity’s future as it lies under the “Curse”, and as with perestroika in Russia, one “…cannot bring about sweeping change in government that has been long entrenched within their respective mode of operation and not bring about cataclysmic chaos and wreckage.” He then continues with details about “the Perestroika Movement that erupted within American scholarship in the year 2000.” The action continues shifting from scene to scene and includes quite graphic details of sadistically motivated anatomical destruction along with the other activity as Judah somewhat emulates Jesus and eventually a number of the secondary ‘protagonists’ proceed together “…to begin to usher in a new era, where the curse will begin to roll back.”
Discussion: The author has set forth a scathing, and quite probably true, assessment of society as it exists today. It is a story of good versus evil with the good embodied in a derelict who ‘has seen the light’ to become ‘a man of God’; the evil, a depraved, sadistic, Satan-like character. A large part of the tale is presented in a somewhat unreal (?), ethereal (?), spiritual manner and as a whole in a way that no doubt will intrigue readers with a certain mind set. Regrettably, although the thoughts behind the story are totally embraced by this reader, a somewhat more ‘disciplined’ approach would have made it more enjoyable. A caveat also must be provided for readers with respect to the inclusion of graphic anatomical destruction and also perhaps for the reader who may be ‘uncomfortable’ with religious discussions.
3* 4* Intriguing, scathing assessment of today’s society enjoyable for most; caveat(s) as explained.