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Higher Cause by John Hunt

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.

Higher Cause by John Hunt

The action that began in last week’s offering is, for better or worse, brought to a conclusion this week. First, though, we get a scene with Onbacher in his search for the Bounty. It acts as a sort of interlude between the action of last week and the conclusion of that action this week. It is a good way to start off the installment, because we know what must surely be coming, but the gratification is delayed and therefore heightened.

Onbacher goes on a trek over land as the first chapter begins. There is nothing especially arresting about the segment, which is usually when Hunt chooses to hit us with something, and this time is no exception. Onbacher meets a man at the end and, through the clever use of a prop, the author relays to the reader everything they need to know. Another cliff hanger, and a great method of conveying much by showing just a little.

After that, we return to the threat to The Island from a few different perspectives. It is a nice piece, but last week I mentioned that more obstacles, more tease and denial, might have been used. Not doing so reduced the intensity of the conclusion. With more involvement, more perspectives might have been added, and there might have been more cutting back and forth from one to another, giving the whole sequence a more frenetic pace and taking us to a higher summit before finding a resolution. Again, it is still a nice bit of action and thrills, but I think more could have been done.

This week paved the way for a lead up to, one imagines, a final action sequence with everything on the line. Onbacher is going to get into something, and if the story is successful it will tie in to the Mexican threat to The Island as well as the Arab threat. If handled right, it will be a great way to finish off the story. We’ll see over the next few weeks how it goes.

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Higher Cause by John Hunt

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.

Higher Cause by John Hunt

Spoilers

There are action and thrills in the offing this week. The sequence we follow sees some separate strands of story come together and follows them through four chapters, the largest offering to date. It finishes in what may be termed the eye of the storm. A crisis is averted, but a larger one looms in the near future.

Hunt has developed a number of characters and spent time positioning them and this week takes advantage of this preparatory work. What we read has enough to be the ultimate climax of a book like this, but we know there is much more to come. It is quite a thrill ride, but I do have a couple of criticisms to make.

The first criticism is that I thought there needed to be more obstacles to heighten the suspense. The setup is excellent, but midway through this latest attack on The Island, some of the danger has been resolved too easily. Don’t just have a man crash his bike and break his arm. Have him fall in a mud pit, too. Then have it start raining, threatening to drown him in the mud pit. Give him a ray of hope in the form of a root that he can grab and climb to safety, but then make the root actually be a snake, which bites him.

A sequence like that should be drawn out as far as tolerable by having the hero’s plight worsen and worsen with each new setback. Every hope or near-resolution must be yanked from his grasp at the worst moment, only to be replaced by another difficulty. This sort of thing might well double the length of the four chapters, but it would probably quadruple the entertainment value. As it is, the sequence is good, but it is not the kind of nearly unbearably good that it could be.

[Keep reading…]

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Higher Cause by John Hunt

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.

Higher Cause by John Hunt

There are a lot of plot lines this week. Just about all the major players, in fact, make an appearance.

We visit the Marcos family, where things in Mexico have nearly reached a climax point, and so has the family dynamic.

Elisa, still arousing my suspicions, briefs Petur and paints a picture of dark clouds on the horizon.

Onbacher makes some headway, perhaps, in his search for the Bounty.

The council of oligarchs comes on stage for a short while.

Finally, we see where Jeff Baddori has ended up. There is the potential problem of logic in this part, because it raises some questions that will need some plausible answers. For now, though, it certainly intensifies things.

The three chapters this week bring us perspectives from all the important storylines. Each either establishes something important or moves the plot forward. Most leave the story dangling tantalizingly in the air, waiting for another chapter so we can see what comes next. It is this aspect of the book, the chapter endings, that stand out most. It is what the author has developed the most in his writing technique.

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Higher Cause by John Hunt

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.

Higher Cause by John Hunt

This week is more about setting things up than reaping payoffs. Onbacher proceeds with his plan to find the Bounty, but that is the only significant plot point in the three chapters. This is not to say that the chapters are skippable, because we catch glimpses of plots and machinations whose culminations will no doubt explode in future chapters, but we do get a little time to catch our breath. There have been some rather kinetic chapters of late, so like a symphony whose music is a contrast of louds and softs, and fasts and slows, and sharps and smooths, we catch our breath and proceed pianissimo, with perhaps one sequence as exception.

There are dark characters lurking on The Island. Hunt once again introduces things slowly, like a tease, as he should. The possibilities are numerous but over the course of the next few chapters we will no doubt start to narrow them down until we find out just what these people are up to.

It bears noting that there has been a lot of reliance on chance partial sightings, conversations improbably overheard, and the like. This technique can quicken the pulse and is often used to get a plot started, or to introduce a twist, but overuse wears out anything. I would hope not to see it used too much more.

We also revisit the Marcos family for another interaction between father and son, one that leaves us more engrossed than it found us. I will say that the removal of one character from the family scenario was a lost opportunity, but there is a hint that she may return. I really want to see more from them.

[Keep reading…]

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