19 Souls by J.D. Allen

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

19 Souls begins with a great opening line.

 

Her bloody finger left a translucent smear on the phone screen as she glanced through the list of private investigators in Vegas.

 

 

The sentence raises questions. Who is she? Why is she bloody? Why does she need a PI? Is she a victim? Is she a killer? Turns out she may be both. The PI that she calls is Jim Bean. Jim thinks he is on track when he picks up a new client, Sophie Ever

s, the above-mentioned woman. Sophie contacts him because she needs help finding her long-lost brother, Daniel. But soon Jim discovers the truth. Daniel is not Sophie’s long lost brother at all. In fact, Daniel is the brother of Cynthia Hodge a.k.a. the body. There’s been a murder. Remember the opening line?

 

And so begins the bizarre series of twists and turns of the novel.

 

This thriller is fast paced. The main character is engaging and the story begins deceptively as a noir tale with a straight-laced but reserved PI with a tragic past but makes an unexpected turn. Soon Jim is on the hunt for a killer a.k.a. his client.

Mind Virus by Charles Kowalski

5 Stars (5 / 5)

“Religion is the smallpox of the mind, and I am its Jonas Salk,” states the evil mastermind who is behind a wave of global terrorist attacks in Mind Virus.  The villain (whose name shall not be revealed here so as not to spoil some of the fun) believes the optimum way to eradicate this virus of the mind is to kill the infected hosts – otherwise known as people of faith.  Enter religious studies teacher and Army veteran, Robin Fox, whose job it unwittingly becomes to stop these international attacks and find the person responsible.  His task becomes all the more personal when colleague and friend (or more?) Emily Paxton is kidnapped and held as leverage to get Fox to stop interfering in the terrorist’s plans.

 

It is no wonder Charles Kowalski won RMFW’s Colorado Gold Award for Mind Virus.  It is a thoroughly-researched,  thoughtful novel regarding the nature of belief, and how what we believe governs how we treat each other, and in turn, how the way we are treated instructs what we come to believe.  Don’t let words like “thoroughly-researched” and “thoughtful” fool you – Mind Virus is also well plotted, nicely paced, and packed with action.  To wit, Professor Fox survives several attempts on his life, saves the Royal Family from a terrorist attack, and makes it from D.C., to Israel, to London, and back during the Passover and Easter holidays.  Not bad for a week’s work.

 

In Mind Virus, Kowalski skillfully tackles some of the largest issues of our time – namely religion and terrorism and their respective roles in shaping who we are as a global people.  And who we are choosing to become as we move forward.  He adroitly weaves together Bible verses, deadly nerve agents, and the imminent murder of thousands of innocent people to create a brilliant, riveting read.  Hopefully, we will see much more from Charles Kowalski in the years to come.