Book Review – The Janus Enigma by William R Dudley

Book Review – The Janus Enigma by William R Dudley

Book Review – The Janus Enigma

by William R Dudley

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1 Blogger Review

Dale E. Lehman 
BookGobbler Author
 

 


Reviewed by Dale E. Lehman

Action Packed and Suspenseful

Through nuclear war and environmental degradation, Earth has been all but destroyed. Seeking new homes, humanity has taken to the stars using a marvel of engineering: the Janus Gate. Orbiting the sun where the asteroid belt used to be, the Janus Gate’s space-warping black hole and surrounding containment field catapults pilgrims to worlds far beyond our solar system. But Janus is also a colony in its own right, its concentric levels home to a full cross-section of humanity. Here, powerful ultra-conglomerates double as businesses and government, ruthless criminal syndicates run amok, and ordinary people eke out an existence.

In the lawless outer levels of Janus, former security agent turned freelance bounty hunter Calder is offered a fortune to find the missing son of one of the richest and most powerful women alive. Of course he takes the job. But soon he finds himself neck deep in deception, treachery, gangland war, and unspeakable crimes. Death threatens at every turn, but Calder must see the job through, cost notwithstanding.

“The Janus Enigma” packs suspense and intense action into a gripping tale of survival and intrigue. It’s well written, too. Author William R. Dudley is a former English teacher, journalist, and editor, so he knows his way around words. I did find some of the dialogue near the end a bit wordy, and on occasion I thought a sentence could have been phrased better, but these are minor quibbles. A bit more significantly, I didn’t entirely buy the young computer whiz Umbra’s emotional episode near the end, and I was a bit disturbed that Calder didn’t notice the parallels between certain of his own actions, which he justifies as necessary collateral damage, and the monstrous crimes he uncovers. Some elements of the ending might have been a bit too pat, as well, but to avoid spoilers I won’t go into detail here. Regardless, the story works, and works well.

Fair warning for those who might take issue: this is a violent story liberally sprinkled with hot vengeance and crude language. Personally I would prefer less of all that, but I won’t factor that preference into my rating, since I seem to be in the minority. In terms of both story and writing, “The Janus Enigma” falls on the high side of 4 stars. If I don’t give it 5, it’s only because of those few small issues I mentioned above. Well done, sir!


The Reviewer is the Author of “The Fibonacci Murders” and “True Death” 

This review will feature in his blog along with Q&A with this author
www.DaleELehman.com

 

 

 
Book Review – Halfway  by Lokesh Sharma and Anubhav Sharma

Book Review – Halfway by Lokesh Sharma and Anubhav Sharma

by Dale E. Lehman 0 Comments

Book Review – Halfway

by Lokesh Sharma and Anubhav Sharma

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1 Blogger Review

Dale E. Lehman 
BookGobbler Author
 

 


Reviewed by Dale E. Lehman

An Amazing Ride, One of the  Better-written First Novels

An old rule of science fiction writing states that an author is allowed one independent miracle per story. In “Halfway,” Lokesh Sharma and Anubhav Sharma hit us with a real doozy: your memories are being harvested, and after you die you are remade with an engineered body and a little bracelet that connects you to those saved memories. Thus reborn into a world called Enigma, you are judged for your actions during your Earthly life and either admitted into the paradise of Elysium or condemned to the torment of Hell. But these realms are not religious/spiritual realms. Rather, they are technological realms situated in a distant part of the galaxy. Pardon the pun, but how the hell did that come about? We aren’t told, and for now it doesn’t matter. Independent miracle. Just sit back and enjoy the ride!

And it is an amazing ride. Like their authors, the key characters hail from India and have backstories bound up with the customs and history of that land. Dev, a young computer wiz who pulled himself out of a suicidal funk by entering into an illegal cell phone scam with his over-the-top pal Sid, faces Hell because he was killed when he ran in front of a truck with an old suicide note in his pocket. An open and shut case, except he didn’t kill himself at all. His death was a tragic accident. Meanwhile, a young woman named Aparna is in similarly deep trouble. After her enraged father killed her boyfriend in front of her for the crime of dating Aparna, she retaliated by murdering him. Worse, she’s now killed two of the locals in Enigma, although in self-defense. But in Enigma, justice can be as elusive as on Earth. In fact, the “afterlife” doesn’t seem all that different from Earth, riddled with politics, corruption, lust, murder, and other lesser crimes and sins. Worse still, lurking in the background is the specter of war as Hell’s self-appointed queen Phoenix prepares to attack Enigma. This is an amazingly good story given that the premise makes absolutely no sense. I found it hard to stop reading. Even better (or flummoxing, depending on how you feel about it), this is book 1 in the “Aspiration for Deliverance” series, and in some ways it’s not a complete story. The lives of Dev and Aparna don’t intersect at all. This is just the set-up for whatever comes next. But it works, so long as you’re willing to wait for book 2, where at least some questions will presumably be answered.

In spite of my raving, this is not a perfect book. It’s a first novel by a pair of indie writers, and as usually happens the writing could stand some editing. Not that it’s terrible. It’s among the better-written first indie novels that I’ve read. But it could do with a fair bit of tightening. Some material needs reorganization for clarity, and many of the information dumps should be cleaned up.  The description is a bit klunky. There are too many sound effects for my taste (I’d get rid of them all, guys, and write some engaging action instead). Oh, and many of those hyphenations and capitalizations shouldn’t be there. Because of these issues, I’d make the writing a 3, but the story easily deserves 4+ if not 5. So overall, let’s give it a 4 stars mark.


The Reviewer is the Author of “The Fibonacci Murders” and “True Death” 

 

 

 
Book Review – Pen, Please  by George Mayes

Book Review – Pen, Please by George Mayes

Book Review – Pen, Please

by George Mayes

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1 Blogger Review

Dale E. Lehman 
BookGobbler Author
 

 


Reviewed by Dale E. Lehman

An Intense Coming-of-age Novel With a Solid and Engaging Story

“Pen, Please” is an intense coming-of-age novel set in Oklahoma. We meet protagonist Andre Young at age sixteen when he returns home from a summer leadership program in Texas only to find his father hospitalized with a blood clot in his lung. The first of many trials Andre faces in the novel, it’s far from the first in his life. Through flashbacks and present-day narrative, this young black man’s journey is exposed as a chronicle of heartbreak, tragedy, and headlong rushes down blind alleys, some imposed upon him and some of his own making.

Andre is fundamentally a decent guy struggling to make sense out of a life in which every joy is followed by a dozen sorrows. But he’s also headstrong and easily tempted to take the easy way out. His troubled relationship with his father and his distance from his absent mother haunt him throughout life. He can’t sort out his relationship with women, nor can he hang onto a job in spite of being an excellent worker. He even briefly descends into selling drugs. But through it all, he valiantly struggles towards something for which he has no good role models: how to be a man.

This is a first novel by an indie writer, and as often happens in such cases, I have to give two verdicts. One the one hand, I think the story itself is solid and engaging, while the key characters are drawn well and generally intriguing. On the other, the writing isn’t what you would get in a novel released through a mainstream publisher. Author George Mayes has potential. He can sometimes turn a good phrase, and one or two particular witticisms made me laugh. But the narrative passages read like he’s trying too hard, and the dialogue could use considerable work. Also, somewhere about mid-story the novel seemed to become a rush of scenes separated by time gaps of indeterminate length. This may be me–I admit to being easily confused–but by the end of the novel I really had no idea how old Andre was anymore, and I got lost in the sea of friends and coworkers surrounding him. There are scenes I wish Mayes had shown us instead of just alluding to as past events. I would guess this novel could easily have been twice as long. It’s that rich in content.

However, I can’t fault Mayes for these shortcomings, precisely because this is a first novel by an indie writer. Nearly all writers start out this way, and in today’s world a great many publish their first efforts. Rather, I hope he takes this as encouragement to develop his craft, because I think there is a really good storyteller in there struggling to get out. I think the story itself is at least a 4 if not a 5, but overall I’m going to have to go with a 3.


The Reviewer is the Author of “The Fibonacci Murders” and “True Death”