4 out of 4 stars
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Luke Foster and Moze Foster plan to get enlisted during the Vietnam War, but only Luke enlists as an injury holds back Moze. Luke does five tours as a Marine, all the while trying to shirk his familial responsibilities—including his wife and kids—leaving his older brother, Moze, to pick up the slack. Moze refuses to take in Luke's family, but after the disappearance of Luke's wife, Chrissy, Moze decides to adopt and raise Luke's children, Wally and Lisbeth.
Decades later, Wally Foster is undergoing a novel treatment procedure called "deep brain stimulation" for Parkinson's disease. This treatment triggers a subconscious childhood memory about when his mother went missing and also paints his uncle, Moze, as a suspect in her disappearance. The DA's office feels the same way and starts an investigation to uncover the truth.
Wally and his sister believe that Moze is innocent. However, an overzealous Assistant DA is committed to finding incriminating evidence against him. When Moze's alibi for the night of the disappearance turns out to be a person with dementia, things take a more complicated turn. What really happened on the night of Chrissy's disappearance? What is Luke Foster's part in all this, and why did he try to run from his duties? Why does the Assistant DA believe that Moze is guilty?
Unlocked by James Christie was an exciting read with enough mystery to make it truly satisfying. I'm a sucker for stories set within real historical eras, and this one did not disappoint. The author set this story within the Vietnam War era, and this showed throughout the world-building in the plot. I also loved how Christie's powers of description shone through in the way he vividly captured the events of the war, particularly at Hue, a city in Vietnam. The author told how things progressed in the war, leaving nothing to the imagination.
What I liked the most was how the author employed flashbacks in telling the stories of Luke's time in the army, his marriage to Chrissy, and the way he ran from his responsibilities. It's always mesmerizing to me when the unfolding of a story takes an unconventional route. In this case, to push the plot forward, events had to be revealed backward. These flashbacks did well to give more meat to characters like Luke and Chrissy, helping me to understand their decisions. There was nothing at all that I disliked about this novel. The story and its construction were testaments to the author's writing prowess.
Unlocked was exceptionally well edited; it must have gone through multiple rounds of high-level editing as I didn't find a single grammar problem while reading. I rate this book a perfect 4 out of 4 stars. Its story set in a real historical era, its strategic use of flashbacks, the author's writing, and the book's impeccable editing do not deserve anything less. I would gladly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction that contains an ample helping of suspense and mystery.
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