3 out of 4 stars
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From the opening lines of the prologue to Doublestar Conspiracy, author Bill Wilke captures the reader's attention. The action starts with the first chapter, and continues until the very last page. Wilke does an excellent job of grabbing the reader's attention and holding it until the conclusion of the story. Doublestar Conspiracy opens in 1985 in the fictitious Middle Eastern country of Zeneen. George Magdi is a 17-year-old prodigal son who has returned home for a surprise reconciliation with his family at his sister's sixteenth birthday celebration. George's father has just lost his bid for leadership of Zeneen to dictator General Tewfick. From there the book is full of assassination plots, cat-and-mouse chases under cover of darkness, innocent people killed, innocent witnesses pursued, and even a love interest thrown in for good measure.
The chapters are organized by locale and time, playing out international events as they occur. The reader is taken from one fateful day in 1985 Zeneen to 9 days in 2001 Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, San Francisco, and several southern California wilderness sites. Wilke creates characters the reader will sympathize with, and others that are easily hated. As each character is introduced, the reader wonders who are heroes and who are villains. Doublestar Conspiracy is a very exciting read, reminiscent of James Patterson's style of writing, with short chapters that carry the reader eagerly forward to learn how the plot will play out.
Wilke's personal experience living in the Middle East helps make this novel believable. The language patterns of the characters from Zeneen, the description of the cycles of tyranny and the rules governing social interactions are all well laid out in this book. The rationales of the people taking innocent lives are also plausible. The reader is faced with the decision of whether to classify the perpetrators as freedom fighters or terrorists, desperate people who feel they have run out of choices, or self-absorbed villains whose desired ends justify any means necessary. This is a timely novel, presenting one author's take on current political violence seen in the news daily. After finishing the novel, the reader comes away with more questions than answers.
People who enjoy political thrillers will enjoy reading Doublestar Conspiracy. On the other hand, people who have grown weary of articles about terrorist attacks will not like this novel. It not only describes political violence, but explores in detail the motives of those involved in committing it.
The book is still in need of some editing, for example, the word "calvary" is used instead of "cavalry", and the phrase "mute question" is used instead of "moot question". There were also some grammatical errors, but they are not so distracting as to detract from my enjoyment of the novel.
I give this book a score of 3 out of 4 stars. Congratulations to Wilke for writing such an enjoyable read!
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