Shadow Cell


By Joseph D’Antoni



It’s the 1980s. Covert operative Hanna, just back from a mission overseas, discovers his lover has gone missing. Through resources, he tracks her to South America where he ends up battling a villain who plans to use children as weapons.

Interesting plot..however, as will be discussed later, the plot doesn’t stay on track from what it starts out to be.


Wade Hanna: covert operative

Harold ‘Yari’ Yankovich: works for the N.S.A.

Isaac ‘Chip’ Palmer: 46, microbiology professor, has a son, has an M.D. and a Ph.D

Gabe Morrison: Homicide detective

Max Yeoman: Was in Vietnam in Special Forces, know martial arts

Don Juan Carlos Mendoza: rancher

Scant information on any of the characters. No physical descriptions to speak of. Don’t know how old the main character is. We don’t get into the underlying emotions from any of the characters. It’s not mentioned for what branch of the government Wade works. CIA? If so, I’m not too sure about the buddy-buddy relationship with an NSA guy. Yari, by the way, does a lot of work of tapping and ferreting out information…apparently without any supervisors any the wiser.


No distinguishable voices because everybody talks the same way, more formal than normal people would talk. Hanna speaks the same to his friends as he does when he’s undercover or talking to those he’s interrogating. “We can’t remove our masks because we don’t want to be identified.” Well, that pretty obvious. Wade tends to repeat a lot of what has already been said or understood. All of the characters speak, at times, without contractions, which isn’t normal and became annoying.

With the dialogue, there is a lot of telling the reader the tone of voice either through telling it straight out or ‘ly’ words. Example: Wade’s voice as well as his intent conveyed if his suspect showed any unauthorized movement he would not hesitate to shoot him.

This is telling, not showing. The scene itself should imply this.


Okay, best place to start is at beginning. For the first 50 pages or so there is a lot of reflecting and analyzing and remembering and thinking and recalling and a few phone calls. It sets the tone for passive voice that is seen throughout. Plus, during these opening chapters, the plot seems to head in the direction of a shadowy military element. Wade remembers some murder based on illegal happenings in Vietnam and this somehow ties into a rogue faction. However, the story then turns to medical experiments on children and this secret military group is never mentioned again. So, what was the point of the first 50 pages? What was the point of Gabe’s character because he was the investigating officer of the murder? He really isn’t involved in the other part of the story.

There is a lot of repetition of words and phrasing and POV shifts throughout that became annoying. Too much overwriting. Some sentences are too wordy when simple would do. Example: Wade responded by thanking Yari for his good work. “Thanks, Yari.” would have been sufficient.

Weak writing all around and some things didn’t make sense or was not believable.

– Wade takes down a suspect posing as a police officer. However, the reader is told that he doesn’t care about the rights of the person. Again, obvious, since he’s already broken a few laws to get the guy. The reader doesn’t need to be told this.

– Wade and Max learn a lot of information about some Burmese operatives…everything except their names.??

– Hardly any action and only in the final bit is there any sense of tension or danger, but no emotion shown, no pain felt. Most of the time the plans are carried out with no danger at all. And one scene where there was a bit of action, Wade wasn’t involved. A secondary character, Max had a fight with a suspect.

– Wade leaves to go to Canada because there might be a problem with his being discovered and/or caught. Unfortunately, there is no feeling that that is the case. And why all the way from the east coast to Vancouver? His subsequent cover story about being from Canada could have been built anywhere.

– Way too long analyzing and formulating the plans down in South America. Too many pages of discussion when there could have been action.

– Strange that Wade, in all his covert years, has never hear of USAMRIID.

– Days and days go by, but no superiors call Wade to debrief him, wonder how he is, or give him a new assignment?

– Weak writing example: As Wade continued his telephoto shots of the school area something immediately caught his attention…

In the above sentence ‘as’ implies a period of time, so the ‘immediately’ doesn’t make sense.

– In one scene, Wade investigates the bad guys’ room while Max watches the bad guys eat. Afterward, Max and Wade reconvene to tail Palmer and the baddies go out someplace else to eat some more. I didn’t understand that. How do they pick up the baddies again?

– Author tries to hard to show Wade as an undercover operative. No need to explain a lot of things. The reader understands. And the dialogue when speaking over the radios is too B-movie.

– Weak writing example: Suddenly, to Wade’s surprise…

If it was suddenly it would be a surprise. This sentence is followed up with Wade being ‘caught off guard’ which is redundant.

– Poorly written sentence: After lighting it (the baddie with a cigarette), he began smoking as Wade took a deep breath as his heart raced, wondering if his suspect saw something that made him suspicious.

And there are more problems throughout. I caught only one misspelled word, but with everything taken into account, I must rank this an:

Orange Belt



Posted on February 22, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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