It's Book Review Wednesday, and today we've got something a bit darker and spookier than our usual fare. I'll let the book speak for itself…
A Savage Distance
Botma, Africa: thousands slaughtered or displaced, children sold into slavery, rampant death and destruction, ancient superstitions ensnare the populace, all at the hands of ruthless dictator, Nishati Azibo.
The American Southwest: state-by-state, women are savagely attacked amidst bizarre ritual, but no law enforcement agency has yet connected the patterns to these brutal murders.
Seven years after leaving the military under a cloud of disgrace, former Delta Force commander Marc (Hunt) Huntington is pulled back in against his will with orders to travel to Botma and rescue Azibo’s young child who is held as a political pawn. Battling addiction and the trauma of a disintegrating marriage, Hunt soon discovers that there are forces well beyond his comprehension at work in this mysterious land. Discovering that everything is not as he’s been told, he is soon drawn into a web of ancient mysticism, possession, and human sacrifice as he struggles to locate and rescue the young captive.
Meanwhile, Hunt’s estranged wife, Dana, works with her first husband, Jonathan Thorpe, to track a vicious Hoodoo-inspired killer across the United States. Struggling through guilt and confusion, Dana soon finds that she must overcome her own personal demons in order to stop the ever more sadistic killings. Fast-paced, full of shocks and twists, these stories intertwine in a tumultuous climax. Don’t plan on sleeping until you’ve turned the final gripping page.
My Review: 4 stars
If you want a solid read with plenty of thrills and chills, this is the book for you! It will snag your attention and keep you reading all the way to the end. I know I did--all 900 pages of it!
Even though this is the third book in the Marc Huntington series, you can start reading without knowing too much back story. You get enough detail to catch you up to speed quickly.
I LOVED the darker undertones of the book. The ritualistic murders, the horrors perpetrated in Africa--it was all very well-written, and it had me covered in goosebumps.
There were a few problems here and there: The author refers to the face on the Minnesota Vikings jersey as the superhero Thor. There were a few grammatical errors that really stood out, and there is A LOT of punctuation missing. Dana places too much emphasis on insulting the villain when she's talking about him to the cops.
But all in all, a decent book to read…
Here's a Taste:
Ubora studied the man further. He still had a military bearing, but not entirely. He was too flippant, too casual. Even his investigation into Ubora’s whereabouts had been brash and impetuous, with no effort to conceal or evade. It was as if the man sought to be apprehended. “Who are you?” he asked finally. “And I don’t mean your name, Mr. Huntington. That, you’ve broadcasted throughout Mirembe City.”
Again, the man shrugged. It was astonishing how at ease he seemed. “I’m pretty much exactly what you see. My gig is rescue and recovery. My purpose in tracking you is to locate and rescue Tahir Azibo. Give me the boy and you and I have no issue with one another.”
Ubora smiled. “Your purpose in tracking me? It seems my men did the tracking. You are the one bound, or hadn’t you noticed?”
“Yeah, there’s that. But I’m here – in front of you. That was pretty much what I was going for.”
Ubora nodded. This one was quite unconventional. Instead of stealth and guile, he’d sought to make a clamor among Ubora’s followers, thus causing Ubora to bring him in to learn of his true purpose. “How did you know I wouldn’t simply have you killed?”
“You could have. But it would have been a stupid move. And from what I’ve read of you, you’re not entirely stupid.” He paused, grinned, licked the dust from his lips. “The way I see it is that you probably did a background check on me as soon as I started making waves. But background checks don’t tell the whole story. There was no way for you to be sure that I was operating alone or what my true purpose might be unless you questioned me. Bingo. Here I am.”
At this Ubora allowed a laugh. He couldn’t help but enjoy the man’s brash style. His apparently lackluster approach to locating Ubora had, in actuality, been designed to bring him to this moment. Maybe not brilliant, but clever at least. Ballsy.
“Who do you work for?”
“Freelance. Me, myself, I. If you’ve done your homework, you already know I’m ex-military and that I didn’t leave under sunny skies. Besides, see my face, my ear?” Here he offered a left-facing profile displaying an almost nonexistent ear. “Technically I’m disabled. There’s no way that I’d still be active. I work for reward money. Nishati Azibo’s offering a hefty sum for the return of her child. I intend to collect that reward.”
Huntington was right. Ubora had investigated his background. Everything the man said was true – as far as that went. But that still didn’t mean Ubora believed him. There was more to this man than what was available in public files. “What has brought you to believe that I have the boy?”
“That’s the hot word on the street.”
Ubora chuckled. “As in, this is what Nishati Azibo has broadcast.”
Huntington narrowed his gaze. When he spoke, his tone remained light, but his focus had intensified. “You telling me that’s not the case?”
“What would you say, should you venture a guess?”
“I’d say that, like most things, there’s more to the story than I can read in the Sunday funnies.”
Ubora nodded. “I would like for you to see something.” Motioning for Huntington to follow, he turned, walking toward a series of burned out huts. Their thatch roofs were gone, but much of the mud brick structures remained. The grim image of Azibo’s god, Anascoreth, was spray painted on some of the remaining buildings. Marching past the still-smoldering structures, Ubora led the American to a gnarled tree. Silhouetted in the early morning sun, three limp forms hung suspended on coarse Manila ropes, their necks broken. “Do you see any children playing?” he asked. “Any boys and girls carrying water from a well? Any women weaving mats or washing plates and bowls? Do you see any villagers tending their gardens, perhaps sitting on tree stumps and eating their morning meal as the sun rises to greet them? Do you see any villagers at all?” Here he paused, glancing about in an exaggerated act, pretending to search out life. “Ah! There’s one,” he said pointing to the corpse of an elderly man laying face down before a smoldering hut. “Ah. And another, and another. There they are. If you would walk the village as I have, you would find all of the adults, not one among the living. Where are the children, I ask you?”
Huntington simply stared at him.
“They’re gone, Mr. Huntington. They’re gone. All of them.”
About the Author:
Thom Reese is the author of the novels, A SAVAGE DISTANCE, THE DEMON BAQASH, DEAD MAN'S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY, along with the short story collection, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER & MADNESS. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Several of Thom's audio dramas have been published on CD and MP3 formats. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home with his wife in Las Vegas, Nevada.