Stephen R. Coar, a new entry into the wonderful world of crime thriller authors, was kind enough to forward to me a copy of his new book for review. I’m honored that he thought my humble opinion was so important. This is his first venture into this type of fiction.
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN # 978-1-4327-9559-2 (Paperback Edition)
494 pages (paperback); 52 chapters
I. Murder Book Summary:
If your name is Special Agent, Lester Cody, then life has dealt you some serious blows. You are an eleven year FBI veteran, who’s the victim of a gunshot wound to the head. You have been left with severe head trauma and are subjected to seizures and blackouts.
You were once an up and coming agent in charge, with a bright future ahead of you. Today, you’ve been reduced to a boring desk job with your talents lying dormant.
You are an unusually tall and commanding figure, but some of your closest colleagues and friends are uncomfortable in your presence. You have a habit of repeating yourself and the details of your injury…your friends and associates take steps to avoid you. They really don’t want to hear another rendition of how you were shot in the head six years ago.
You’re a loving husband and devoted father, but there are problems in this area as well. You’re married to an intelligent and beautiful woman, but your sex-life is non-existent.
You wife, Melany is devoted to you, but your ramblings and lack of sexual interest are placing an enormous physical and emotional strain on her. You don’t know it, but Melany is harboring a very guilty secret that is placing your marriage at risk.
If your name is Lester Cody, you crave a stable relationship with your wife and you want your job back. Your REAL job! These are the things that define who and what you are; a family man whose professional calling is to protect and serve the public…at any cost.
If your name is Maxwell Tierson, then life has dealt you some hard blows as well. Nature has not been kind to you. Whereas Agent Cody is unusually tall, you are unusually short.
Some people consider Agent Cody a handsome man. No one would ever accuse you of being handsome. You have a large head, short legs, and deformed hands. Like Agent Cody, you are extremely intelligent and resourceful. Unfortunately you almost never receive any credit for your near genius I.Q.
You hate being the center of attention, but that doesn’t stop people from staring at you and making cruel jokes behind your back.
Your abusive father beat you without mercy until you were in your teens. Your loving mother either stood by and did nothing, or joined in on the festivities.
Your dad probably would have continued to beat you into your twenties and beyond. But one fine day you took matters into your own hands and murdered him in the cellar of your dilapidated home.
It’s strange how quickly your mom decided to help you after your dad’s death. You became her boy (“are your all right, honey…talk to Mommy”), even as your “disability income was her only income”.
Like Agent Cody, you suffer brain trauma and are subjected to seizures and blackouts. Unlike Cody, you protect and serve no one. You’d rather indulge yourself in your favorite hobby: blowing up trains.
Fate is about to bring these two powerful antagonists together and it won’t be pretty. The Pine Barrens of Southern, New Jersey, has just been rocked by a freight train bombing that leaves the motorman dead, and millions of dollars worth of produce destroyed.
Special Agent Cody is about to receive one of his fondest desires. He is being reactivated to field work. But Les Cody needs to be careful about what he wishes for.
And Les also needs to be careful of supervisors bearing gifts. Robert Delano, Regional Director of the FBI in Philadelphia, and Cody’s boss, harbors a deep resentment towards his former star agent. Any “gift” from Delano is more like a curse.
Delano would love nothing more than to see Cody’s career lying in smoldering ruins, just like the trains that Maxwell Tierson loves to blow up.
Once given this dubious “chance” to reinvent his career, Les finds himself chasing “the little man” through the Jersey Pine Barrens. He even gets to play “super-hero” by attempting to stop a speeding train atop a Philadelphia bridge.
And, of course Cody must do all of this while watching his back. After all, Delano’s treachery is never far behind.
II. Murder Book Judgment:
There are other characters and scenarios in this book (such as a terrorist plot). Frankly, I found most of those to be distracting. The above mentioned characters are the ones who carry this story, and give it its strength. In my humble opinion, they are the ones that make this murder book worth reading.
And just what sets this thriller apart from so many others? Is this book just another of an endless line of psychotic killer novels and crime dramas? I think not!
To a lesser extent, Delano’s jealously and hatred of Cody just oozes off the page. I developed an instinct dislike for this man, and wished nothing but bad karma for him. I’m sure that that was Coar’s intention anyway.
Cody’s devoted but guilt-ridden wife Melany ultimately triumphs in a powerfully supportive role, after a temporary “failure” as a spouse. It was so refreshing to “meet” someone who doesn’t cut and run when the going gets tough.
But the real stars in this crime drama are Special Agent, Les Cody and Maxwell Tierson.
They both have so much to teach us. Here we have two damaged individuals who have, for the most part, been written off by the people around them. And yet, they both prove to be capable of performing at levels that would challenge the competences of so-called “normal” folks.
Cody finds himself on the verge of a full-blown grand mal seizure, in the middle of an investigation that can make or break his career. How does he react? He pulls himself together by sheer force of will, and continues his mission.
People assume Maxwell Tierson is “mentally challenged”. And yet, with his resourcefulness, combined by a super-high intellect, he has taught himself to hack into government files, with his damaged fingers flying over the keyboard with ease.
Both of these men have been dealt unfairly in life. They have more in common with each other then either would ever acknowledge. Both have suffered devastating injuries to their minds and spirits. And yet, both have been given gifts to overcome the obstacles in their path.
That’s the first lesson. We all have great gifts to accomplish what we will. Here’s the second lesson. It’s what we decide to do with those gifts that separate one individual from the other.
In this thriller, one man decides to protect others even if it costs him his own life. The other man, fueled by rage, decides to destroy others.
In the end, this book is not about blowing up trains. It’s about overcoming ones limitations, and deciding how to use what’s been given to you.
If you’d like to know more about Stephen R. Coar, you can find the info by clicking on my “author’s” page. Enjoy!
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