Friday, May 31, 2013

January Justice by Athol Dickson

Reeling from his wife's unsolved murder, Malcolm Cutter is just going through the motions as a chauffeur and bodyguard for Hollywood's rich and famous. Then a pair of Guatemalan tough guys offer him a job. It's an open question whether they're patriotic revolutionaries or vicious terrorists. Either way, Cutter doesn't much care until he gets a bomb through his window, a gangland beating on the streets of L.A., and three bullets in the chest. Now there's another murder on Cutter's Mind. His own.

I would have to guess, if it really ever matters, that this book will be hugely successful.  And what would I be basing that assumption on, you might ask?  Well, since my birthday is in January, and the title of this book has January in it, then it only seems correct to say that anything associated with January is going to be successful.  Now you follow my logic, don’t you?  I bet you wish now that you had something to do with January, don’t you.

Malcolm Cutter is a man that time has forgotten.  He’s lost his wife (ssshhh, don’t tell anyone that he was married) and he’s lost his memory of what happened that awful night.  He’s also lost months of his life as he tries to recover from that event.  We find out that Malcolm is a driver, of sorts, for various clients in Los Angeles.  One of those clients, Haley Lane, became more than just a client.  Haley wasn’t just another pretty face and great actress.  She was also had a great business sense and was very open about her charitable work.  Malcolm, on the other hand, was ex-military.  Ex, because he had been dismissed from the service and court-martialed for a highly publicized event that took place with his unit during a raid.  As their relationship grew, Malcolm did not want to see all of the hard work that Haley did get muddied with his past, so he begged her that their relationship never came out publicly.  So here we are, he’s back to driving, living in the guesthouse and trying to unravel the hazy memories from the night that Haley died.  Malcolm is made aware that the bulk of her fortune, estates, and assets has been left to him over his objections.  He takes a job driving some visitors around Los Angeles only to find out that they want him to look into a kidnapping and ransom that happened 7 years earlier.  As he is still hiding from his past, he only wants to get his life back together quietly and move on.  Before long, though, he sees that it isn’t possible to ignore this case.  With his trusty butler, Simon and his knowledgeable gardner, Teru, by his side, Malcolm delves into this new chapter in his life.  Will he find out the answers to the kidnapping and ransom?  Does his memory ever become clear on what happened to Haley?  What does he do with all of her stuff?  Did he really commit those atrocities overseas?  Questions, questions, questions!!!!  Just buy the book already and find out for yourself J

I will admit that I didn’t really like Malcolm at first.  I wasn’t real clear on what happened with his character and Haley, but as I read the book I began to understand that that was on purpose.  This is the first in a series of books, so I’m sure that as the books progress, so will his memory of that night.  He did tend to grow on me as I continued reading and the supporting characters, Simon and Teru, made the story line even more enjoyable.  There isn’t a very clear “Christian” theme in this book.  Malcolm does have some interaction about faith and talking to Jesus, but the theme throughout this book was more of a clean suspense/mystery novel.  I find it refreshing that someone can write a book with this type of action and intrigue and do it with no foul language or gratuitous sex scenes.  I would hope that this character continues to build off of the relationship that his wife had a searches for his own answers through Jesus.  The storyline is very smooth and believable.  There aren’t a lot of characters that would cause you to become confused or hard to follow.  The interaction that Mr. Dickson has between Malcolm and Simon and Teru is riveting at times.  They all seem to bring something to benefit the group, but there is just enough mystery about their characters that I look forward to more being revealed in future books.

Is this a "guy's book"?  The main character is ex-special forces military.  There’s plenty of action and suspense to keep anyone’s interest.  This books is definitely one of those, “just one more chapter and then I’ll go to bed” type books.  Yes, this is a book that any guy would enjoy reading.

Mr. Dickson was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions in a quest to get to know him a little better:

What is your favorite bible verse and why?
It’s hard to narrow it down to one, but I guess if I had to pick it would be “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) I love that, because it comes right after Paul’s famous description in Romans 7 of his spiritual struggle against evil, and his confession that sometimes evil gets the upper hand. I’m comforted by that confession, because if even a spiritual giant like Saint Paul the Apostle finds that “when I want to do good, evil is right there with me,” then it means my own ongoing failure to be the kind of man God wants me to be is probably okay. Not okay in the sense that I should be comfortable with it, of course, but okay in the sense that it will all work out well in the end. Romans 8:1 means God isn’t sitting up in heaven judging my every move. God knows I have sinned, still sin, and will sin, and he has loves me and has mercy on me anyway.

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?
The first goal of every novel ought to be to entertain. If a story isn’t interesting at the very least, and hopefully a lot of fun to read on top of that, then nobody’s going to care about anything else the book might have to offer.

Besides writing, what are some of your favorite hobbies? 
I love boats and boating. Every kind of boat from a canoe to the Queen Mary appeals to me. I love boat designs for artistic reasons, and I love learning how they function. I own two or three boats at any given moment. I have a small library of books about things like boat design, boat history, and cruising on boats. I love how it feels to sleep on a boat. I love waking up in the morning at anchor in some secluded cove. I love that boats can take me all the way around the world if I choose to go, which of course you can’t do in a car. I love the fact that you don’t have to follow roads in a boat; you can steer in any direction you like. I love the fact that it’s so easy to get off by yourself in a boat. I love the instant contact with nature you get in a boat. And I love the sense of adventure I feel whenever I set out in a boat.

What advice would you give to a beginning writer?
The best advice is to write a lot. If you’re not writing, you’re not learning to write; you’re just fooling yourself. The next best advice is to find someone whose opinion you respect, and who knows a good book when they read it, and who you believe will be brutally honest, and then let them read your writing and listen to what they think. Be ready to change anything and everything. Never be defensive. Welcome negative critiques. They person who points out what is wrong with your work is the one who’s helping you get better; not the one who’s telling you how wonderful it is.

Favorite memory from childhood?
When I was ten, my parents took my little brother and me on a one month road trip. We covered most of the western States, from Texas to California, up to Washington, over to Montana, and then down again. The year after that we did the same thing, except we went east. Those two trips opened my eyes to how big and exciting the world is.

Favorite comfort food?
Pecan pie. No, wait. Peanut butter on Ritz crackers. No, wait. Pulled pork barbeque. No, wait. Cheese enchiladas. No, wait….

About the Author:

ATHOL DICKSON is a novelist, teacher, and independent publisher. His novels transcend description with a literary style that blends magical realism, suspense, and a strong sense of spirituality. Critics have favorably compared his work to such diverse authors as Octavia Butler (Publisher’s Weekly ), Hermann Hesse (The New York Journal of Books) and Flannery O’Connor (The New York Times). One of his novels, River Rising, is an Audie Award winner, and three have won Christy Awards. His most recent novel, The Opposite Of Art, is a mystical story about pride, passion, and murder as a spiritual pursuit. Athol’s next release will be a “Christy award collection” of his four best selling novels, updated and with new forewords. Athol lives with his wife in southern California.

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