4 out of 4 stars
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Artificial Light by D. Dupree is a political thriller that deals with international terrorism, one person’s particular brand of evil used to rule the world from the shadows, and the courageous actions of a few. The story takes us from the United States all the way to the sand dunes of Mongolia, far away from modern civilization.
Unlike most thrillers of this type where there is one main character to follow (such as Jack Reacher in Lee Child’s novels), here we have several main — good and bad — characters who feature throughout the story, such as cave diver and agent-for-hire John Capshaw, madman genius Yanji Wellington, Wellington’s protégé Miki Soon, and a bunch of greedy lawyers who would sell their souls for some extra zeroes added to their bank accounts.
This multiple-viewpoint narrative allows us to take a peek behind the curtains of evil, and we get to learn more about the characters’ reasons behind their often horrible actions. Watching arrogant people like Milos Gant and Stew McClary realize the very moment their lives turn for the worse is an entirely joyful experience. It seems even they can grow a conscience when there is no other way out.
I enjoyed the budding romance between John and Miki. With John’s help, she developed the willpower to become her own person, especially after living in Wellington's shadow all her life. Wellington also had an interesting personality. I will never forget the theatrical entrance he made when he welcomed the lawyers into his home. I found his character arc the most pronounced and most satisfying to follow even though he should have been the one to hate above all.
While the book is an engaging read in terms of story and character development, I do need to mention one small issue I noticed while reading. It didn't bother me much, but it seemed that several people had a similar ability to read other people’s minds. Stew McClary “possessed the ability to gauge the intent of a person by the precipitous appraisal of their expressions.” Larry Briggin was “good at reading people,” and Peter Simon “was able to read […] thoughts – a gift he had since early childhood.” The book was not a paranormal story, so these abilities appeared way too often in it.
Overall, I like the author’s writing style. D. Dupree has a clear and distinctive voice, and her prose is poetic in places. She often uses flowery descriptions that, strangely enough, work in this book. I found a few grammatical errors, especially missing periods at the ends of sentences and some misspellings, but in general, this is a well-edited book. Thus, I award Artificial Light 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it to readers of slower-paced, character-focused political thrillers where the bad guys feature almost as much as the good ones.
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