AVNER, The David Rivers Series, Book 2, a thriller in e-book, paperback by Jason Kasper.

This book continues the saga of David who is approached by Ian, the only other known surviving member of his team, in his safe house area in the Dominican Republic. Ian supposedly has discovered a man who can get David to the organization that was involved in the clandestine operations, in the last of which the other team members were killed along with Karma – the one woman who could have brought some closure and peace to his mentally war-ravaged condition. David takes the chance but is subjected to a rigorous series of tortures that lead to his actual demise. The routine had been monitored carefully and controlled, however, so his heart was able to be restarted and he, along with another member of the organization are dispatched upon another almost impossible mission. The story then continues with this mission that he hopefully believes will provide an opportunity to face “The Handler”, the person responsible for his team’s demise.

As in the first book in the series, the tale is replete with extended episodes of graphically portrayed torture, repetitive killings, explicit blood and guts, and constant suspense imbedded in a high-octane action thriller plot. And the plot follows the old adage that if anything can go wrong with a mission, it will. It begins with a night parachute drop to an isolated spot in a remote part of Africa and the first hitch comes when the plane encounters severe thunderstorms and must change course. The resultant change causes the jumpers to avoid landing in the ocean, but lands them in a position 200 miles from the anticipated spot of arrival. Several more develop but the last hitch, another delay, does have an upside – it allows David to fit together a piece of the puzzle that has been missing since the beginning. And as one finally reaches the book’s final episode, he/she will be provided with still more anticipation of the same fast moving action with a little mystery thrown into the next volume.

This book, like the first in the series, has a few faults. A reader ‘spins his/her wheels’ for the first 60-70 pages until there is something to ‘grab-ahold-of’. However, once arrived it is there and the ride begins. A protagonist is offered who is patterned on the war veterans who work for the several organizations that offer guard and other, perhaps more clandestine, services for governments and/or other groups throughout the world. The author verbalizes extremely well so the selection provided is an empathetic figure. The situations are at the outer, but none-the-less possible, level of credibility. The descriptions of brutality, blood and guts are graphic but ‘tell-it-like- it-is’. And ruminations once more are set forth on thought patterns so often experienced by anyone who has experienced extended periods of life-threatening activity – a condition which science has been pleased with itself to be able to pigeon-hole and deigned to designate as a condition of ‘post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD’.

A fitting final description for this book perhaps may best be offered by somewhat paraphrasing this section of my review of the preceding book. It is a story not only captivating for the action aficionado but, even though a tale replete with action somewhat distasteful to certain readers, also provides them with periods of insight to the almost constantly reappearing thoughts of persons who have endured recurring situations of life-threatening distress – compelling material that would be well worth the time for uninitiated individuals to read.

 4*    5* Outstanding thriller-plus; -1* still a hiccup, as described.

The Atmosphere of Angels


     The Atmosphere of Angels, Smashwords e-book Edition, written and copyright by H. C. Turk.

Parno Hadjara, along with Kathlynn Shumard, the desirable young woman next to him were admiring the scenery as the space boat was gradually approaching Kapnos 3, the new planet with whom purportedly their government was desirous of establishing a working relationship similar to others previously set up. Other members of the visiting party are Vera Pacetti (Chief Technician), Grazio (the pilot), Ward Hanshaw (The Project Director), and his wife Stacy (Financial Anthropologist). As the plot develops, it is discovered that the Kapnosans have no interest in anything the new arrivals have to offer. However, their planet is a tremendous source of ether ore which is scarce and is the basic element of the fuel required to drive their space boats. Thus, Parno, after only one previous deployment as a junior officer, now is the Stellar Service Off-World Emissary to attempt negotiations. Actually he was selected to keep Kathlynn occupied while the other members of the project mine and load surreptitiously the ore after which all will depart. Kathlynn must be ‘kept busy’ so as not to interfere. If discovered she, without hesitation, would terminate the project because as the Earth Nations United Designated Representative, this was exactly the type of activity the Earth Nations were attempting to eliminate. From this beginning, the story rolls following Parno and Kathlynn through numerous horrifying encounters as they attempt to make contact with the indigenous inhabitants until arriving at the somewhat unusual ending.

Describing this author’s book is somewhat of a daunting task. He exhibits a fine appreciation of Sci-Fi technology and verbalizes very well with often graphically detailed descriptions followed by specifically and accurately presented emotional reactions. Also, when a ‘different’ language is used, it is not awkwardly done as so often happens. However, character development of the two protagonists is a ‘mixed bag’. Basically it is adequate but their reactions frequently do not fit their character and/or activity. They just do not seem to ‘ring true’ to their purported professional level; e.g. many aspects of their sexual interest and expression thereof seem forced, uncharacteristic and even sophomoric for individuals purportedly of a degree of maturity to be assigned to posts of their level; similarly the occasional concurrent horror/humor sequences. Similarly again, the pace is ‘irregular’. In a general way it is maintained, but the endless sequences of attempting to escape the indigenous inhabitants’ structure would have benefited greatly by a little judicious editing and at least for this reader a little more about the other characters would have provided a more rounded story that would have greatly enhanced its enjoyment.

3*  4* Well-written horror (?) sci-fi; 3* regrettably for reasons presented.