Friday, August 24, 2012

Silver’s Treason by Clifford W. Dunbar

About a week ago I posted my willingness to review books on the Eternal Press web site, one of my publishers. Clifford W. Dunbar responded right away. He is an author with Damnation Books, the parent company of Eternal Press. In some cases, receiving a book to review based on a "cold call" can be a disaster because the book could be completely outside the realm of the genres that interest me. Most of the time, I ask an author if he or she would like me to do a review of a specific book. Nevertheless, I accepted the challenge, not really knowing what to expect. I'm delighted I did.

My five-star review of Mr. Dunbar's excellent novel is provided below. I really loved the book, and probably learned a lesson myself: don't be so shy about what I read. If an author believes in his work enough to risk evaluation by a complete stranger, then the work just could be one of the best manuscripts I've ever read, as this one definitely was.
Ever walk into a dark room, only to have the light flick on and people jump up yelling, SURPRISE!” Me neither, but that’s the feeling I got as I began reading Silver’s Treason. The book was a joy to read. Great plot. Impeccable editing. Flawless writing. The things that make a reviewer’s eyes sparkle … at least this reviewer. If ever there was a novel begging for a movie, this is it. The book is action packed from start to finish, and the characters come alive in their interaction with their animals and each other.

Jeff Thompson is an army private assigned to handle a hermesdog. Hermesdogs are bred for their paranormal capabilities, like the ability to alter the path of an oncoming bullet. Hermesdog endure protracted and intense training, and are controlled by the deep bond established between the handler and the dog. Because the dogs are extremely dangerous to humans, only a narrow range of capabilities are permitted in breeding. Dogs that don’t meet rigid army standards are classified as “salvage” and euthanized; however, the dogs and trainers are so tightly bound emotionally that trainers don’t always reveal “extra” capabilities they observe. Therefore, hermesdogs can be more than they appear to be.

Jeff and his dog, Silver, are ordered to accompany a DEA mission to disrupt a Columbian cartel deal. Everything goes wrong; the team is ambushed. Only Jeff and Silver survive. Captured, tortured and left for dead by the cartel, Jeff is saved by Silver’s unusual skills, some of which are revealed to Jeff for the first time during his ordeal. Dog and master must then survive cartel captivity, native superstition and the wile of the cartel boss’s stunning beautiful daughter, Ariana.

This novel really captivated me. Ariana is as naturally evil as she is beautiful. Of course Jeff falls for her, but the situation is impossible. Clifford W. Dunbar is a master juggler as Jeff is torn between his love for the woman and his duty to his country – the interplay between temptation, violence and reality is truly amazing. And through it all, the devotion between Jeff and Silver grows stronger. I couldn’t help but love that dog, and I couldn’t put the book down.

By the time I had completed 90% of the book, I pictured a romantic HEA ending between Ariana and Jeff, but … a scorpion is always a scorpion … and reality bites. I won’t spoil the ending. It is a heartwarming surprise, just not the one I pictured. All I can say it this: buy this book. Read it. You will be very glad you did.

Thank you for offering your book for review, Mr. Dunbar. It was my pleasure to review it.

James L. Hatch

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