Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thy Neighbor
Love Thy Neighbor by Mark Gilleo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclosure: I received a free eGalley eBook ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Clark Hayden is a graduate student trying to help his mother navigate through the loss of his father while she continues to live in their house near Washington DC. With his mother’s diminishing mental capacity becoming the norm, Clark expects a certain amount of craziness as he heads home for the holidays. What he couldn’t possibly anticipate, though, is that he would find himself catapulted into the middle of a terrorist operation. As the holiday festivities reach a crescendo, a terrorist cell – which happens to be across the street – is activated. Suddenly Clark is discovering things he never knew about deadly chemicals, secret government operations, suspiciously missing neigh- bors, and the intentions of a gorgeous IRS auditor. Clark’s quiet suburban neighborhood is about to become one of the most deadly places on the planet, and it’s up to Clark to prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in the nation’s capital.

Fast, acerbic, wise and endlessly exciting, Love Thy Neighbor marks the unforgettable debut of a startling new voice in suspense fiction.

My Thoughts: I need to start right off by saying I am more than a bit confused by something – and I apologize that this is a bit of a spoiler, but it occurs very early in the book and there are plenty of other surprises to be seen – but I’m very surprised that a woman is put in charge of an Islamic terrorist cell. Women are treated as second-class citizens by most Islamic fundamentalists, from my understanding, even if that is not what the Koran teachers, and it doesn’t make any sense to me that a bunch of radical Muslim men would take orders from a woman for any reason. From that point the whole house of cards sort of falls apart unless you are very much willing to suspend disbelief. Also, her daughter just disappears with absolutely no explanation as to where she went or how. While not insurmountable, these issues raised enough questions to leave me a bit unsettled.

However, as the plot progressed, I found myself caught up in the story. Switching back and forth between a terrorist cell and the prosaic life of Clark and his elderly mother, the story flows smoothly and quickly. While I frequently found myself upset, mostly because I just can’t fathom the mindset of people involved in terrorism of this sort, it is generally a good sign when a book is able to elicit those sorts of emotional responses. I don’t know exactly how this writer got so far into the minds of the terrorists – it’s a little scary, actually – but he did a good job of it.

Oh, by the way, she was a minor character and toward the end of the book, but I loved Mrs. Crowley. She would have made a good match for Clark’s randy old WWII vet neighbor, Mr. Stanley. I also enjoyed Clark’s mother, crazy as she was.

It is true that this is a galley, so hopefully the typos will be fixed – there are a lot of problems with using the wrong homonym. It gets worse as the book progresses, as if whomever did the initial proofreading lost focus. This happens, unfortunately – even I’m guilty of that when I’m editing.

So, a mixed bag. There are some plot issues that might make reading this more of an exercise in suspense of disbelief than the average reader will find easy, but the story itself is fast-paced, well-developed and suspenseful, with plenty of twists and turns. Recommended for fans of suspense and thrillers.

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