Monday, December 31, 2018

Book Review: 'A Trace of Revenge' by Lyle Howard

'The boy wasn’t supposed to be home, Magnetti snarled to himself! ‘

Florida author Lyle Howard teaches journalism classes to aspiring young writers when he is not writing his popular novels. Lyle is a Benjamin Franklin Digital Award SILVER HONOREE for his book "It's About Time”. He has published five novels to date – all in the category of suspense thrillers.

Writing thrillers takes a special talent – that ability to pull the reader into the story to the point that the terror is contagious. Lyle clearly has that gift, as an excerpt from the opening of the book demonstrates: ‘Halfway into the living room, as he stood next to his father’s favorite recliner, he heard it— a shriek so blood-curdling in its tenor that his bladder was terrified into release. A scream so shrill in its urgency, that it made the pencils clatter to the floor. Matthew Walker stood frozen in place, trembling, protected only by a pair of scissors that, even when new, weren’t capable of cutting through more than one piece of construction paper at a time. It was his mother! The plaintive wail came twice more before it was abruptly cut off mid-scream. Safety scissors upraised, stocking feet begging for traction, Matthew raced for his parents’ bedroom door. He yanked open the door... He was right! The monster was there, standing on the other side of his parents’ bed! Backlit against the meager light that filtered into their bedroom through the window curtains, the ogre seemed to have no specific profile. It was a common shape, and it was holding something over its head... what was that? He couldn’t make it out. The monster gradually turned his head in the boy’s direction. His worst nightmare was coming true... it had no face! There was nothing above its neck, but a pair of bright white eyes that burned with an incendiary fury that Matthew knew couldn’t be human! Out of the merciless night sky, a bolt of lightning followed by a deafening clap of thunder shook the house. Illuminated by the momentary brightness, Matthew could see that it was a baseball bat that the creature held, and it was dripping with a dark liquid and some unnamable stuff that dripped off it in grisly-looking chunks. He had to warn his parents! When the boy turned his attention to the head of the bed, he realized that he was too late! What he had feared most in his fantasies had somehow become a gruesome reality. In his impressionable young mind, the “little man’s” cowardly procrastination had cost his parents their lives.’

The plot is complex but well woven – ‘A young boy is left for dead by the assassin who has just bludgeoned his parents. Matt Walker witnesses the murder of his parents but is able to escape and remains alive. He loses his ability to hear but finds out he has a unique power called Psychometry. This power is an ability to “trace” or know an object’s history, just by touching it. A few years later, a top-secret government armament is stolen during a deadly hijacking at sea and someone intends to sell the powerful weapon to fulfill their own twisted ambitions. At the same time, a ruthless mob boss has a gruesome secret that he must protect no matter the cost. All it takes is something as unassuming as a foul ball hit at a Major League baseball game, to send all of these characters and events spiraling on a collision course aboard the most unique cruise ship ever built and send Matt on the quest to find his parents’ killer.’

Introducing the psychic phenomenon of psychometry is a stroke of genius and makes this thriller a cut above most. Lyle Howard knows his game – well! Grady Harp, December 18

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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