Author: Randall Jarmon
Publisher: Mikvelk Publishing, LLC
For the most part Randall Jarmon's recent novel, Flat Light is set in the fictitious New England town of Montshire in one of America's poorest states and is intertwined with two parallel plots adding new layers to each as the yarn unfolds.
The opening scene of the novel has readers in December of 1987 journeying to the Stumpy Runs Ski Resort where we become acquainted with a beautiful blond woman, Shannon Wilcox who happens to be the Attorney General of Idaho and is about to take to the ski hills.
Unbeknown to Shannon and hidden in the shadows of the mountains are three dangerous Frenchmen that are planning to rape her near the ski hill's summit. Fortunately, eighteen year old Ben Montgomery, the resort's ski lift operator, hears Shannon's screams and comes to her rescue. The two manage to apprehend these despicable cowards and hand them over to the Montshire police.
Shifting to East Germany a different encounter is taking place. It is here where we are introduced to Major Ludwig Ernst and Otto Strempf, East Germany's Regional Deputy Minister for State Security. Realizing that their country's days are numbered, the two plan to defect to the West along with their wives and sons.
In preparation for their journey, Ernst and Strempf have plundered considerable sums of money from their country's treasury and have deposited the booty in two numbered Swiss bank accounts. Their ultimate objective is to immigrate to the USA and more particularly relocate in Montshire using as their bargaining chip the intimate knowledge of some of East Germany's sensitive secrets that were acquired over many years of service to their country.
The Americans fall for the ploy and welcome the defectors with open arms without conducting too much of a thorough background investigation. The information passed unto the Americans is of no great value and is not fatal to East Germany.
There is more and lots more. What the Americans miss on the radar screen is that Ernst and Stremp have something sinister planned- the assassination of the President of the USA as well as some other prominent American officials.
Their base of operations will be centered in Montshire, the same town where the opening scene of the story unfolds. And it is here where from 1987 until 2012 that Ernst and Stremp meticulously create a convoluted and devious plan involving a hostile country to the USA that will result in the murder of several individuals, some of whom are quite well-known.
Getting back to Ben, his act of bravery will dramatically and forever have an impact on his life. Shannon, acting like a big sister and practically adopting him like her son, offers him a job with a prestigious ski resort, Flynn Leisure Properties owned by her dad, Damon Flynn which is located in Idaho. Ben is also awarded a scholarship from the resort that will give him a full ride to any university. Above all, Ben eventually learns that Shannon's dad, her husband, Hanley Wilcox, and a family friend Jacob Leach, who is described as the world's deadliest man, as well as some other individuals are part of a secret team that have been trained to stop professional assassins. They take Ben under their wings and he likewise becomes a member of their unit.
This briefly is a summary of the story's premise and for most readers they will have easily figured out that ultimately there will be a collision between the good and bad guys. The question is when and how will all of the conflict come to a head?
For most of the tale Jarmon's vivid imagination runs wild, although there are sections, particularly within the middle chapters that need work in creating more suspense and tension. It does, however, pick up towards the last chapters and ends with quite a flurry of violent action that will have readers shivering.
After putting the book to rest, the question looming in my mind was if the characters were credible and if in reality this could actually happen? Indeed, this is a work of fiction, nonetheless, the “what if? scenario always crops up when I read thrillers. It is this credibility that I felt was not exactly up to par as it stumbled in giving me more of a connection to the principal characters. Lets face it, this is something personal and no doubt depends on what is important to you as a reader of thrillers.
That being said, if you are looking for a far-fetched story where some of the scenes remind you of a James Bond movie, trust me, you can't go wrong with pick Flat Light. You won't be disappointed. Perhaps, the novel will someday be turned into a movie-who knows?