This review is part of a series covering each installment of the serialized novel Higher Cause, written by John Hunt and published by Laissez Faire Books. To catch up, start with the announcement, the book’s link-rich table of contents, and the first review.
The next installment of John Hunt’s serialized novel, Higher Cause, is out and ready for reading. Last time we met a couple characters and got a glimpse of a plot. This time we follow one of the two characters, Petur Bjarnasson, as he continues to recruit. We also find out more details of his plan, while the shadow of the villain is cast in Amsterdam.
Mr. Hunt is assembling the pieces of a real thriller — so far. While Petur is recruiting, he runs into his first obstacle, which tells him and us that someone is on to him and does not want him to succeed. He also has an unlikely encounter with someone he had glimpsed in another city. Petur invents an excuse for it, but as readers we suspect something else is up. The locations are also interesting, and it looks like we will be hopping all over the world over the course of the story.
Chapter three is a repetition of chapter one, with a different location and a new target. This time, Petur is recruiting a man named Thomas Standall to invest in his vision. The danger here is for the story to lag as we go over ground we have already gone over. Hunt does a good job of feeding us more information about the plan this time, which does go some way to keeping our interest, but I still got a bit of a restless feeling at the inevitable repetition. If I were to give advice on the structure of the opening, I would suggest omitting the prologue and, in chapter one, showing us only the very end of the sales pitch, where Onbacher agrees to invest $400 million. With this little bit of information and next to nothing else, curiosity would be piqued. Then, in chapter three, we can see the recruitment process rather than have to see a lot of it twice in a short time.
There were a few minor things that could be smoothed out with more editing. Often there are adjectives that should be taken out or that perhaps do not convey exactly what the author intended. Petur, at one point, ascends a “rather innocuous cement entrance stairs.” Innocuous as opposed to what? More so than the average cement entrance stairs? Petur sees “two men, both with dark hair and inadequately shaved faces.” Did they miss a spot, or did they have a couple days of stubble? There is the occasional sentence that could be phrased more elegantly, such as “The fact that drug use was legal allowed for there to be little concern for illicit importation.”
These are not large issues, however, and are easily addressed. The important points are the setting, the characters, and the story. So far, they are promising, and the comments on the two post are in agreement. The book has the added bonus of being unabashedly libertarian, and I do not mean gay-marriage/balanced-budget/medical-marijuana libertarian. This is the real vintage, the radical stuff. Much of chapter three is a history lesson on governments debasing their currency and the dangers this represents to any society.
That’s all for part two. Tune in next week when the next three chapters are published.