3 out of 4 stars
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The kidnapping of Jay Jay Martin, a prodigious nine-year-old skater, makes Rudy Styne; a talented journalist, lose his chance at a cover story about the unfair arrest of Jacob Bruno, renowned graphologist and Holocaust survivor. But it also unlocks something much more sinister. Rudy sets his way to cover the Jay Jay story and ends up at the heart of a cult deep-rooted in Utah and uncovering much more than he and the reader expected.
While this is the main storyline, Fate Line, by Marc J. Seifer, is an amazingly complex novel. The author masterfully interweaves many subplots, all of them enthralling and, ultimately, connected to each other.
There are many things I loved about Fate Line, but the characters are, probably, my favorite. Not a single one of them could be labeled as ordinary. You will meet graphologists, a palm reader, an art expert, a hypnotist, and several other fascinating personalities. All of them are well-developed and even with backstories that explain their behaviors. I do have to mention that there are a lot of characters in this story, and some readers might have a hard time keeping track of who is who, at first.
The plot is engaging from beginning to end, action-packed and full of twists and turns that will get the reader absolutely hooked. To my amazement, there isn't a single detail that's not relevant to the story, even if it seems so at first. The author thought and planned this novel with extreme care and there are no loose ends.
Fate Line is also quite thought-provoking. The plight of Jacob Bruno at the beginning of the novel raises questions about how much protocols, chains of command and plain bureaucracy can obstruct the application of real justice.
The possibility of what we often dismiss as pseudosciences, such as palm-reading and graphology, being quite an accurate way to get an insight into someone's mind and even being scientific is one of the issues presented that made me question my previous assumptions. The author is, in fact, a handwriting expert, so the book is incredibly precise in these regards. All the terminology about handwriting is explained, allowing for an easy read even for those of us that aren't familiar with graphology, and without it being boring, but as part of the story.
About the other important subjects that are approached, I have mixed feelings. The book dives deep into pedophilia, incest and the sexualization of children in the media. While I agree it's very important for our society to acknowledge these issues, understand them and solve them, I think the details provided were unnecessary, and the adjectives used to describe some minors are inappropriate. I also didn't like that, at times, it seemed like, hiding behind some dubious Freudian explanations, there was an attempt to justify what I consider an absolutely unjustifiable behavior. The devastating consequences of child sexual abuse aren't explored and, in my opinion, the author lacked sensitivity and realism towards the whole subject.
That being said, I have to warn that this book is probably not suited for abuse or rape survivors, especially child sexual abuse, and it's not a read I would recommend to anyone who is sensitive to these topics. It's, obviously, a book only appropriate for mature audiences. While I enjoyed the book in general, honestly, I had a very hard time reading some parts of it.
The language used is simple but powerful, and the dialogues are realistic and even witty and humorous at times. The book is enriched with different types of texts and illustrations. There were some minor mistakes, mostly misplaced quotation marks, but they didn't interfere at all with my enjoyment of the novel.
Fate Line is part of the Rudy Styne Series and although it can be perfectly read as standalone, the author recommends that we read the whole series.
I rate Fate Line 3 out of 4 stars. The plot is engaging, original and perfectly developed, the characters are amazingly interesting and its full of surprising facts about graphology, psychology, palmistry, and many other topics. I can't, however, give it a perfect rating because, in my opinion, the topic of child sexual abuse deserved a much more sensitive and complete approach.
I recommend this novel for readers who enjoy thrillers, mysteries, anyone who likes quirky and unique characters and people interested in graphology. I would, however, advice to proceed with caution in regards to the sensitive topics mentioned.
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