By James Hanna
An Indiana penitentiary is the scene for a riot and hostage taking by a group of prisoners. What is their goal? Tom Hemmings, counselor, must enter the danger zone and negotiate terms before more people are killed.
This is billed as a psychological thriller, but I found the ‘thriller’ part a bit lacking in strength.
Chester Mahoney: portly, child molester, 70s, prisoner, attended Southern Baptist College, Masters in Divinity, bearded, former farmer, pipe smoker, wife dead
Henry Yoakum: prison guard
Tom Hemmings: prison counselor, fine-boned, former army, 52, drives a VW Rabbit
Sarah Baumgardner: works at the prison, blonde, has children
There are a few others in the cast. The author does a good job of relating the lives and thoughts of the characters, Chester, especially. Much of the story is between Chester and Tom. The problem I had was that although the story was from Tom’s POV, I never felt very close to him. Yes, he has emotions, but most of what I see is clinical thinking. I think the story lacked significant character development. Yes, people change, but not so I felt very excited or satisfied about it.
A couple of characters sound very similar and that bothered me, because one is a prisoner and the other is a guard. Shady guard, and maybe that’s why the author made him and the prisoner sound alike. Some voices come through. Conversations, while not long, do tend to go on for a bit.
Profanity. Sex scenes, though not too graphic. Book is composed of Parts, each of which is headed by a quotation. Sections within the parts are headed by date and time.
As mentioned above, I didn’t see much suspenseful thriller, especially in the first major chunk of the book, which is mostly flashbacks. I kept wanting to advance the story but was constantly thrown back in time. I don’t know if this worked for me, at least as to the tension building. As the book moved through the hours of the situation, I wanted to go back to the prison to have some more action, but it settled on a relationship between Tom and Sarah.
There wasn’t much tension. Yes, there was a hostage situation, but right at the beginning it is mentioned how it ended. That blows the suspense part. Yes, there are deaths, but they are not shown with any emotion. There’s hardly any emotion at the climactic scene and it drops off to a lengthy aftermath and most everything goes back to a status quo.
I will say this: the writing is solid. I didn’t see any errors and it is obvious the author put in some time to write a complete story.