Review: No Heaven (Imagine Trilogy #1) ~ Lex Allen

No HeavenThe first time He walked our Earth; He came to teach people the Way to inner peace and everlasting life without fear of death or oppression by those with religious or political power.

He failed.

As Jesus returns to save the world from darkness lurking just beyond the public eye, His presence challenges modern Christianity and the core beliefs of a religion founded in His name.  The ensuing struggle to save humanity is on – in a good versus evil battle of epic proportions.

4 Thumbs-UpThis book is the first in the ‘Imagine’ Trilogy and when I first opened the cover I thought it was going to be a quick read.  I was wrong.  I found myself wanting to savour each part of this interesting book, which as it progressed turned into the likes of something I don’t think I have ever read before.  I found myself waiting until I was done for the day before picking it up, and only reading one or two chapters before laying it down to digest what I had read.

In one sense the reader may feel that there is a main protagonist in this book and, if they can pinpoint which of the many characters this is, they will find that they are just as thoughtfully well written as any of the others that appear throughout its pages. All the characters are given different backgrounds and, with their varying belief systems this adds dimension to each encounter they have as the book progresses; it adds layers to an already intriguing and well thought out novel.  The Author chose wisely when including so many ‘religions’ for his characters, as it provides the reader with someone they can personally identify with, whether they be Christian or not.  The flaws and traits of all characters in the book make them believable and possibly, make you feel you have met someone like them in your everyday life.

The locations for this novel are sweeping, ranging from Germany to the high desert and all points near and not so near.  It is apparent from the detail that the Author included in his descriptions that he either has an in-depth personal knowledge of these areas or has done extensive research into them to ensure they are as authentic as possible.  However, as with a piece of work that chooses this topic as its subject matter, there is a great deal of artistic license taken in the writing and, in this case, this really works; the inclusion of conspiracy theories, paranormal occurrences and historical accounts mesh nicely together to make this a complete and unbiased viewpoint of what is a highly flammable issue.

There are so many different strata, points of view, opinions and hypotheses to this novel that it would be hard to place it only in the sci-fi genre, it is not just a good sci-fi novel it is more.  Although at times it can read like a personal attack on the Church by the Author, I felt that this was not so much a denouncement of organized religion but another way of looking at something that is so prevalent and influential in a lot of people’s lives today, and as well as promoting good it also serves as a catalyst for war.  Good editing and proof reading add to the consistent and easy to follow flow of the book, helping the reader who may be having trouble getting to grips with the ideas included in its pages have the time to digest and think about what they have read.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading the remaining two instalments of this trilogy.

I would highly recommend this book to any reader with an inquiring mind that is open to new interpretations of an old theme; also those who enjoy the sci-fi genre would mostly likely find this book an interesting read.

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Review: Kalorama Shakedown (The Harry Reese Mysteries #3) ~ Robert Bruce Stewart

Kalorama Shakedown

Boodlers, and pikers, and slyboots… oh my! It’s December 1901, when the paths of three of the era’s notable characters cross in the nation’s capital: the Wizard of Oz, the Countess von Schnurrenberger und Kesselheim, and Harry Reese, insurance investigator. Harry has come to Washington in order to solve a string of jewelry thefts. But first he must match wits with a throng of thirsty newspapermen, a pack of rapacious lobbyists, and a young devotee of the Wizard’s. And as is usual, his dear wife Emmie has her own agenda.

5 Thumbs-UpWritten with more than a discrete nod at Hammett and a dash of P.G. Wodehouse this novel, the third in a series, is a great and engrossing little read.  It is a mystery, with more than a little satire and three murders thrown in for good measure.  Also, like its two predecessors it is completely able to stand firmly on its own merits.

Our main protagonist is the man the series is named after, and with his wife, he adds body and humour to this absorbing novel.  He is dry, precise and engaging and is the perfect foil to his wife who is wilful, secretive and independent, worryingly so for the era in which the novel is set.  The Author does an outstanding job of making his main character not only the perfect gentleman for his time, but one who is well aware of the ‘flaws’ others may like to point out his wife possesses, and he deals with them all in a gracious manner.  He is very likeable and this makes the reader want to know more about him and his world as the novel progresses.  His wife is also well written, to such a degree that she could almost be billed up there with her Husband, and the novel could be said to have dual main protagonists.  I thoroughly enjoyed this strong Lady, and actually felt myself warming more to her than I did her Husband; maybe it is because I could visualize myself in her role if I were transplanted back to that time period.

The book is written in the first person narrative, with Mr. Reese being our narrator and, in this manner the story is told through his experiences, emotions and reactions to everything and everyone he meets, including some very humourous asides about his wife and her friends.  However, rather than being a dry read as is sometimes can be the case with novels written in this manner, it just makes the storyline seem more realistic and interesting.  I did wonder from the title of the book if the Author was giving a small nod to the Kalorama Guest House in Woodley Park D.C, as a lot of the action and events in the book do take place in Washington D.C.  It is apparent when reading this mystery that extensive research was done to ensure the descriptive portions of the book concerning the nation’s capital, were correct for the time and a great deal of care was taken to ensure no buildings appeared where there were none.  Through a deft use of words and writing style, the Author transports the reader back to a time when there were still vast expanses of greenery to be seen around Washington, and society was governed by strict rules and layers; he also fleshed out the storyline with wonderfully witty dialogue, a slew of literary references and some very engaging and entertaining relationships, a couple of whom I hope will make further appearances.

I would strongly recommend this novel and others in the series to lovers of the mystery genre and those who like a side order of humour and satire with their murders.

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