4 out of 4 stars
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Even though I do know the moves that each chess piece makes, I find it difficult to see potential moves far in advance and strategize, so I'm not fond of actually playing the game. Due to my failings, I also greatly admire those who are adept at real-world chess, the ability to think ahead and come up with a game plan on how they'll accomplish their goals. PAWN, written my Barry Katz, is full of people who have been plotting their long game, and I am still fascinated by it, hours after having finished reading it.
Jim Powers, Jr. has been planning the demise of his father's killers since Jim, Sr. was murdered years ago. The culprits, however, aren't content to just sit back and let Jim come for them. In fact, now they want the money that the older man left to his son. Meanwhile, a scorned woman is making moves of her own in her plan to check the people who have done her wrong. I don’t want to say too much here lest I give away any secrets. With other players on the board, it's anyone's guess who will attack who on their way to victory. There's also the question of just who is a pawn for who.
At its heart, PAWN was a book about revenge, and the revenge seekers played an intricate game that kept me glued to the edge of my seat. Though none of the players were deeply drawn, and I didn't actually like any of them, I was constantly breathless, waiting to find out who would come out on top. Would Jim get his vengeance? Or would he fail in his vendetta? What about the woman who was out for blood; would she be successful in her quest to give as good as she got? I felt that Mr. Katz did a superb job on keeping the suspense going and making me second-guess myself. Heck, I even third, fourth, and fifth-guessed myself! Just when I was sure that one person was walking a certain path or in league with another, I was proven wrong. This tome was so full of twists and turns that I started looking for "Winding Road" and "Sharp Turn Ahead" signs!
The author used clear language, writing plainly and without flourish, in a manner befitting such a book. I was also glad to see only a few grammatical errors, none of them distracting enough to pull me out of the story. There were some loose ends that left me wondering about a few things, but lacking that knowledge did not leave me lost; it was more along the lines of me being curious about a handful of details. The very end blew my mind as well, and I still haven't fully come to terms with it. With all things considered, I am happy to give PAWN 4 out of 4 stars.
This tome contains graphic violence and foul language, so those who don't care for either of these things will not enjoy it. Fans of chess and strategic writing will love it though. I also recommend this book to readers who enjoy revenge tales, not to mention stories that contain a lot of plot twists and changes.
It's been said that the pawn is the weakest chess piece. Well, this PAWN is definitely not the weakest piece in my library, and I really hope that Mr. Katz writes more books of strategic revenge.
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