Posts Tagged ‘political intrigue’

Setting: Chicago, the windy city.

Antagonist: Ismael Fisher, a sniper of unimaginable skill gone rogue.

Conflict: Some dirty political secrets that stem to the very tip of our government are on the brink of being exposed.

Hero: John Lynch, a detective way in over his head; let’s hope he can tread water fast enough.

Take out your blender, toss in a dash of perfect setting,  a pinch of deadly antagonist, a smattering  of conflict worth killing for, and top it all off with a smooth talking detective. I’ll take my Penance “…shaken, not stirred.”

The first thing to take note of in Penance is the character cast at the very beginning of the book. While it may seem a tad intimidating at the onset, by the end of the novel, I guarantee that you will appreciate the nifty bit of magic Dan O’Shea has crafted here. The lineage connections from one family generation to the next smacks you in the face with a shocking truth: Money, position, and power tend to stay within families and those families in Penance will do anything to remain in control of that power, much like those in real life.

I Love The Setting. My 83-year-old insane grandfather has been living in the same house in Chicago all his life and my mother grew up there; this book reminds me of him so much. He would always talk about the mayors, segregation, different racial neighborhoods, and cheaper gas in Indiana. This book’s setting has it all and more, it’s spot on.

There are so many fantastic things about Penance: The ease of which O’Shea incorporates his expertise / knowledge of weaponry is flawless. I don’t know if it is all completely accurate or not, but for me it worked seamlessly. I can only imagine the amount of time any other author would have spent researching some of this stuff to even try and compete with O’Shea.  Ishmael Fisher’s underlying motive for killing his seemingly innocent victims is so damn perfect… (Will not give out spoilers.)

With most novels you can get close to guessing the outcome. Penance had my head scheming up a whirlwind of different conclusions and even in the final few pages I felt the novel could turn down so many different alleyways with a single gunshot.

Pour out yourself a strong glass of Penance, add a couple more fingers worth, and shoot it straight. You might get a fierce burn in the back of your throat and by the time you’ve finally run out, you will be thanking O’Shea for crafting such a rare piece of fine art. Penance is my second novel from Exhibit A; Wounded Prey was the first, and I have Lawless & The Devil of Euston Square up next. Exhibit A has stepped up to the plate with some killer books. Watch your back.

On an earlier post, I previously compared Phase Four by Gary Carson to being the tasty bi-product of TV series Jericho and World Famous Batman Begins movie, if they were mashed together inside a butter churn.  I’m still sticking with this superb analogy. Government conspiracy, political intrigue, action, thrills, and psychedelic horror – this book has a little tantalizing piece of everything.

When a supposed military convoy carrying nerve gas is hijacked, things couldn’t possibly get any worse for national security, right? Unfortunately the cargo isn’t really nerve gas, it’s something much more sinister and deadly. Homeland Security agent Matthew Drake is instantly recalled from vacation and set on surveillance over a suspected terrorist target. Drake’s operation immediately goes AWOL, and everything within the book from then on gets royally screwed. The supposed nerve “…gas is released inside a luxury high-rise hotel in an apparent attempt to assassinate the President.”  All there is to say, is that everything isn’t quite as it seems. The gas turns out to have mind shattering properties, turning all infected into a mindless, zombie-like, shambling mob of screaming and babbling insanity.

The vivid descriptions of those infected and what they are seeing is… well… freaking awesome. Giant lizards, a huge piercing eye, skittering insects, and a multitude of other hallucinations are only the beginning. It starts to get scary when you find out there are “Four Phases” to this infection and it might just be irreversible after the fourth phase.

The initial influx at the beginning with introducing so many characters was a tad hard to follow. This being stated, they get weeded out quickly. The main characters, Matthew Drake and Gena Hahn,  bind together to create an unrelenting force of just pure stubborn determination. They won’t give up even when they’ve run completely out of any chance of survival.

Honestly, I was unsure how well I would be able to get into this book. It had a great storyline but other than that it isn’t the typical “Military Sci-Fi or Fantasy” novel I’m addicted to. Within the first few pages, I was seriously hooked and yelled at repeatedly for not setting it down and pay attention to the real world quickly revolving around me. Obviously I need to start branching outside my cozy comfort zone more.

Carson’s Phase Four delivers the reader an altered version of the United States in such realistic imagery and ideals that it isn’t all that difficult to envision them coming to fruition in the modern day.  A fast-paced, up-beat novel with a fantastic ending, Phase Four isn’t one you should miss out on. I’d give this astounding novel 7.5 Liams out of 10.

You can find more from Gary Carson Here and Blasted Heath Publishing Here.

Much Thanks to Al Guthrie for providing me with this review copy of Phase Four.

Infected Liam!