3 out of 4 stars
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A Gift Returned by Dennis Sheehan reads like a superhero novel, full of excitement and danger with the fate of the world at stake. In the first chapters we meet Bill Mitchell, a white boy growing up in a black ghetto neighborhood. He had to learn to be tough and show no fear to earn the respect of – and stop being beaten up by – the other kids and teens in his area. He was helped by several people, notably a priest who inspired him to enter the priesthood as well. Helping people is what Bill felt was his purpose in life. But priests are entrusted with secrets that some don’t want shared.
I say this book feels like a superhero novel because the goods guys have access to seemingly infinite supplies of troops, money, contacts, and intelligence. Coincidentally, as I decided it was reaching ridiculous levels, I heard a news broadcast someone was listening to that quoted insane amounts of money, contacts, and intel that went into dealing with an international situation. So perhaps it’s not as unrealistic as I had at first thought.
The first part of the book was quite good and I felt invested in Bill’s life. After a while, with so many characters and locations introduced, I got confused about who was who and where what was happening. The author’s problem with names didn’t help. Deputy Director of the FBI is Bill Young – until a third of the way through when he becomes Collin, sometimes Colin. Later the poor guy walked down a hall and turned into Paul! Then there was Joan Fisk, or is it Frisk? Apparently the author couldn’t decide and so went with Fiske instead. Still, the story was crammed full of suspense, danger, and action with a serious shocker of an ending!
There were far too many errors of all types to give this high marks. Several rounds of corrections are needed. It’s also full of profanity and some seriously sickening scenes of sex and violence. The book is extremely anti-Muslim.
It was very interesting to read about some of the political machinations and power-mongering, but there was so much hatred! It was like watching the news, but with much more insider information than I would like to be real. Though it’s true that this is fiction, so much of it is possibly closer to reality than we might imagine.
Because of the errors and sickening scenes, I’m taking off a star and giving 3 out of 4 stars. I would give only two except that thinking of it as a superhero novel makes it more acceptable. It’s written for a male conservative, militantly nationalistic western-world audience. I didn't particularly enjoy it, but if you're the right audience, you might.
A Gift Returned
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