4 out of 4 stars
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A Thing of Dark Imaginings by Roger Alan Bonner is a crime thriller exploring the current gun violence issue in the United States. Lebanese-American Amir Hawari and his wife Serena lose their daughter Lelah in a mass shooting at Whitetop Mountain College in Virginia. Lelah was their only child. The shooting claims the lives of seventeen students, one teacher, and the shooter, 27-year-old taxi driver Larry Bright. Amir is a quiet, introverted man who struggles greatly with the burden of losing his daughter. He begins to hallucinate, seeing Lelah at various ages in public locations. One day, a deep voice begins to speak in his mind, entreating him to enact vengeance on gun-peddlers like the executives at the National Rifle Association (NRA). Amir thinks of this evil voice as the Beast...
This book opened with a particularly powerful and sickening scene, as Inspector Roundtree of the Virginia police walked into the aftermath of the school shooting at Lelah's college. Bonner's depiction of the carnage was visceral and disturbing as we followed Roundtree through the scene, reconstructing the events that had just occurred. I have read a lot of crime thrillers and have probably become a little desensitised to violence, but this scene hit me right in the gut.
Bonner's writing was gripping and intense, providing a fascinating study of the dark side of human nature. His descriptive sentences and dialogue were short and punchy, making for an easy and enjoyable read. He also used commas correctly all through the book, in direct contrast to much disappointing editing I have seen in other books I have reviewed. The addition of Roundtree's perspective made for an excellent combination of revenge thriller and police procedural.
The pacing of the story was fantastic. The plot moved forward consistently with very few lulls in the action. The tension built beautifully throughout, especially for the scenes from Amir's point of view. Mass shootings in America are particularly topical now, especially with the "March For Our Lives" youth movement after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine's Day this year. I felt that the current gun violence debate - and the NRA's complacency toward the loss of human life - were accurately depicted by the author.
The only minor negative I could find was a handful of minor errors, but they did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. A Thing of Dark Imaginings is an excellent thriller and I have no hesitation in awarding it 4 out of 4 stars. The story was tense and engaging and I really enjoyed the ending. This book would appeal to any fan of powerful crime thrillers, but be aware there are some graphic scenes of gun violence and its aftermath which may deter some readers.
A Thing of Dark Imaginings
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