Reviewer Sandy Graham: Born and raised in Canada, Sandy spent 35 years with The Boeing Company in a variety of engineering and management positions. After retirement, he satisfied a long-standing urge to delve into creative writing. Sandy has authored three novels, Two Loves Lost, The Pizza Dough King and Murder – On Salt Spring?
Publisher:Sandy Run Press
Would you expect a bluegrass banjo-picking songwriter named Boo to write an insightful, action-packed thriller that keeps you flipping pages into the night? Boo Walker did just that with his novel Turn Or Burn.
His protagonist, Harper Knox, is anything but heroic at the outset. Suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) arising out of a career first as a Green Beret and later as a contract soldier (think mercenary or soldier of fortune), we meet him on his small vineyard in Eastern Washington trying to stave off his nightmares. Dragged back into a protection service job in Seattle by his old army buddy, Harper is drawn into rapidly escalating danger and intrigue.
Harper Knox tells us the story in his own words and thoughts. Boo uses him to give us an intimate look into the debilitating effects of PTSD. Time and again, Harper is waylaid by it, particularly in stressful situations when he most needs clear-headed action. Before the book was half read I was pulling for poor old Harper to crush his demons and save the day. Boo doesn’t let us off that easy, instead he weaves increasing obstacles and unexpected twists into the deepening mystery.
Conflict is generated by technological advances which interfere with the normal course of a human life and therefore are seen by certain religious groups as circumventing God’s will. On the one hand, scientists are close to creating a direct communication link between the brain and a computer or internet server so that a person’s thoughts and memories can live on after their physical body is dead. On the other, religious zealots will use force to prevent it. Both sides of the argument are given. However, it is the radical extremists that turn it from a theological controversy into a murderous battle.
As one intimately familiar with Seattle and both sides of the mountain in Washington, it’s a pleasure to see how thoroughly and accurately Walker portrays life in our wonderful little part of the world. The only thing I would have preferred would be to have Harper harp more on incessant rain to help us stem the tide of population growth. He was too busy fighting his demons and saving lives.
Writing a full story from the first person point of view is a challenge for any writer. Everything must be seen, spoken or thought by Harper Knox. Boo Walker carries it off extremely well and manages to give the story surprising depth in the process. And all with spell-binding action!