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.
In week five, we return to the story line of Jeff Baddori, the DEA agent we first met in Mexico. The first of two chapters deals with Jeff’s work in Mexico, now a year in the past. We are privy to a meeting of important figures in that country, one of whom has a grand plan the specifics of which are kept from us. One of the men is a drug dealer whom Jeff had fooled into shutting down his operation. The man, Juan Marcos, is still convinced of Jeff’s loyalty, but another has information for him that may change his mind.
In the next chapter, we join Jeff, who is back to work, this time in Moscow. He is on his way to a meeting with some Mafia members, but his instincts tell him something is wrong. It is, and we wind up with some action to end the scene. As a final bit, we get yet another scene with the mysterious seven, who increasingly strike one as fulfilling some sort of Illuminati function. Their conversation hints at the previous chapter, leaving us with possibilities and wondering whether this is a red herring or not.
The first few chapters of the book seem to have been an extended prologue, of sorts, a way to set us in the time and place and give us some background. After the last installment, with our leap forward, it appears we are into the heart of the story. Already some connections between the story lines have been hinted at, and surely they will grow and evolve in future chapters.
The author continues to do a good job with his description and atmosphere. Without spending too much time, he gives us details for multiple senses, and that I appreciate. I think a thing like that makes the world real, brings a reader more into the story.
There is some work to be done as far as editing goes. I would suggest another once-over before a final publication. There are some misplaced commas and words in the recent selection, minor grammatical bits. There were also a handful of strange ways of phrasing something. For instance, “The unfortunate emptying the entire magazine into _______ had contributed to Jeff’s mission” seems like a bland and oddly vague way of conveying the message.
Also, it might profit the story to cut back on some of the adjectives. At one point Jeff is accosted by an “irritating little man”, yet he plays so small a roll one wonders why we needed to know he was annoying and small. If indeed he was irritating, this could be shown, rather than told, in his interaction with Jeff. Most likely, it could be left out altogether. There are a few instances where adjectives do more to clog up the narrative than enliven it.
As a final point, I think that proper names are overused and could be replaced with pronouns in many instances where it is obvious whom we are referring to.
But these are not critical issues. The story continues to entertain, as we keep ascending that narrative hill and mysteries become deeper and more numerous. I wonder what the answers will be.