3 out of 4 stars
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In Sanctuary, by Paul Ashlin, the coach of the high-school football team in Big Springs, Texas has a lot on his mind. Tom Thompson and Kathy, his wife, have not been getting on since they moved to the small town from Ohio. She doesn’t like Big Springs, doesn’t like how the people there treat football like a religion. The final straw for Kathy comes when the team loses an important game. Tom and Kathy arrive home from the game to find a mob attacking their house. Shortly after this, Kathy packs her things and leaves town with the couple’s two kids.
Tom thinks his life has been turned upside down, but that’s just the start of his troubles. The real drama starts when he attends a coin-toss event to decide if his team can proceed to a play-off match. A cataclysmic event at the coin-toss triggers a ripple effect, and Tom finds himself at the center of a drama he can’t control and doesn’t fully understand. He meets a woman with whom he shares an inexplicable, electric attraction. Is she friend or foe? Caught up in a media storm, Tom tries to work out what is going on. Does he have special powers? Has he been given a mission? Above all, who can he trust, and where can he find sanctuary?
This is an enjoyable novel that is driven by its fast action and snappy, authentic dialogue. The author doesn’t intrude with lengthy descriptive passages or information dumps. Instead, he allows the words and deeds of his characters to carry the reader along. This makes for a pacey story that twists and turns from start to finish. I also liked how the author handles the subplots, shifting seamlessly from one to another in a way that keeps the reader’s attention from waning. The paranormal element of the narrative is also handled with skill. It’s certainly a feature of the story, but it is hinted at rather than made explicit. There is much more of it to be explored and developed in subsequent books. I’m assuming that there will be other books to follow, as the author finishes this one with the words ‘To be continued…’. Hopefully, this is the first of a series.
I found the minor errors in the book frustrating, even if they didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the story. It’s a common occurrence in books published by independent authors, both fiction and non-fiction, that a work of some merit is marred by small mistakes that could have been weeded out with proper, professional editing.
I am awarding this book three out of four stars. I am deducting one star on account of the errors mentioned above. The book may have been professionally edited, but another round of proofreading would have added a shine to it. I recommend it to people who enjoy fast-paced thrillers laced with a hint of the supernatural. The book is for adults; there is strong language from the beginning, along with some mild eroticism. In summary, this is a good read, and I look forward to the next in the series.
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