Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: 'Swarm Theory' by E.W. Sullivan

Georgia author E. W. Sullivan comes to his favored discipline of writing with a rich background - architect and contractor, teaching computer networking, and owning a financial services company. SWARM THEORY is his second novel – his debut novel, the award winning SHEAVES OF ZION, served as not only his introduction to the public as a writer of note of mystery thrillers but also served as Book 1 in his Thelonious Zones crime series.

‘Murder mystery thriller’ is a designation that demands magnetic audience appeal if the mystery aspect of the book is to be successful. Sullivan has the skill to keep apace filled with clues, twists, turns, and sidebars that assure the reader will stay with this book, lengthy though it is, until the last well scribed chapter. One of the chief reasons this works so well for him is his creation of an ongoing main character with who we can identify and cheer. Dr. Thelonious Monk is a criminal profiler who uses his skills wisely and with perseverance until a case is solved.

Sullivan opens in medias res in chapter one with the language that sets a fine tone for the novel – ‘Zones heard the screams, unsure if they came from man or beast. The whines of stray cats, when caught in a midsummer night’s breeze, can sound like cries for help. What woman would come here this time of night, other than whores? He flipped up his collar and shoved dry hands inside his coat pockets. He stepped away from the entrance to Apple Massage and charged down a darkened street. Another scream followed the last one. Zones pushed the shrieks from his mind. This was Decatur not Atlanta— although it wanted to be. It had big dreams, just like every s***hole town that surrounded that resurgent city. Zones fought the wind, rushing through a stiff breeze. His coat made its own sharp noise while flapping in the wind. The screams grew stronger. He darted down another street, heading toward the sounds, no longer able to ignore them. Weak, inconsistent beams of light came from a flickering lamp that dangled from the side of a building. Around a corner, more light beamed from an alley hidden behind an abandoned restaurant. From the cover of darkness, he watched as a young woman struggled with a man twice her size. The man shoved the woman hard to her knees. Zones watched as she tore the flesh-toned pantyhose that bronzed her long, pale legs. The man doubled her over on the ground. His hand was chocked-full of hair as he forced her head to the pavement. That dirty, hard surface is no place for the soft, clean skin of a debutante.’

And his synopsis outlines the events to come: ‘Criminal profiler Dr. Thelonious Zones wants to believe his father didn’t kill his mother. What stops him from believing is the twenty-five years to life his father received for her murder. Zones’ avuncular employer and father’s best friend, Sam Drake, defends his innocence. Zones sets out to find the truth to this twenty-four year old question, but his search is interrupted when he is forced to investigate the death of a young Arab college student and the series of bombings engulfing a small southern town. Zones’ theory and profile of the perpetrator are questioned by law enforcement when events change and new suspects emerge. The trail to the truth will lead Zones through a thicket of well-guarded secrets and childhood memories that cause him to question what he believes about how the world truly works.’

Weaving the many issues of family, crimes of rape, animal abuse, terrorism, conspiracy, makes this more than just a murder mystery thriller. E.W. Sullivan is well on his way to becoming an important thriller composer about whom we will likely hear much more! Grady Harp, October 16
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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