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Pawnbroker

Review: Seven Unholy Days – Jerry Hatchett

“American society has grown so dependent on computer and other electrical systems that we have created our own Achilles’ heel of vulnerability, ironically much greater than those of other, less developed nations. When deprived of power, we are in many ways helpless, as the New York City blackout made clear. In that case, power was restored quickly because adjacent areas could provide help. But a large-scale burnout . . . would create a much more difficult situation.”*

Jon Kyl- Unready For This Attack – The Washington Post April 16, 2005

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning – Rich Cook

Will the future bring your wisdom to me?
Or will darkness rule the kingdom for all eternity? Nostradamus

A TEN Star Review for intelligence and terrifying reality

Click for the Jerry Hatchett Website.
Click for the Jerry Hatchett Website.

Seven Unholy Days scared the breath out of me. Not because of the amazing writing, which it was, but due to the absolutely clear-sighted horrifying truth of the tale.

In Jerry’s last thriller, Pawnbroker, he used his extensive knowledge of computer forensics to create a scenario which lent a stark reality to his work. Now, in Seven Unholy Days, he goes further still, using his technical and computing expertise to create a novel of power and believability that will keep you awake at night.
From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step” Denis Diderot 1713-1784

In Jerry’s newest thriller, he posits a scenario that is only too realistic. The complete collapse of the American power grid at the hands of a powerful, wealthy religious fanatic. The whole country goes dark. The terrorist’s demand? A “Decree of Darkness.” America is to remain in the dark, no electrical power allowed. Not wishing to bow to the demands of a terrorist, the President allows the lead character of the book, Matt Decker, the computer specialist who designed and installed the new control systems for the American power grid, to turn the power back on. What happens is horrifying and real enough to chill my blood.

The death of an individual is a tragedy. The death of a million a statistic. Joseph Stalin
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The setting of the book, Iuka, Mississipi, where the “Great Central Electric” power transfer station is located is right in the author’s comfort zone and his description of the area and the people draw you into the story. You can almost feel the heat of a Mississippi day and feel the humidity. As in “Pawnbroker” the characters are fully realized and well-rounded, lending them a believability that makes you like them, or hate them in a realistic manner.

What I found most scary about the book, other than what actually happened, is how it happened. How greed, fanaticism and political self-serving can allow an incident of completely horrifying consequence to occur. While some religious fanatics are committing abominable acts with no remorse what-so-ever in the name of “God” others are committing these acts, and worse, simply for money. While the acts of these supposed humans are gut-wrenching, they also hold that absolute ring of veracity that is without question one of the things that will cut the reader soul deep.

There are, of course, secondary stories that run throughout the book. In Pawnbroker, Jerry wove those secondary stories in a way that kept you interested and involved. Here, he goes deeper, weaving those stories in heartbreaking and chilling ways that make you think not only of his main theme, but of wider themes of fanaticism, greed, child abuse and human brutality which both open the mind and darken the soul. In the words of Herbert Ward, “Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.” A rather odd quote for the ideas I have been discussing in this review, but it will make sense when you read the book. And you really, really MUST read this book. It is a thriller and fiction, sure.

However, it is more than that. It is, in its way, a treatise on the power of fanaticism, the fragility of the world financial markets, and the vulnerability of the human race to its dependency on technology, as well as the lengths humans will go to find meaning in their lives through the abuse of religious ideology. It is one of those rare thrillers that has seated itself deeply into my psyche and will come back to haunt me in the future.

_____________________
* The John Kyl quote refers specifically to the effect of a major EMP pulse over the United States, but it is appropriate to this review.
This book was provided to me by the author, however, that fact has no impact upon any review I may write, now or in the future.

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Review: Pawnbroker by Jerry Hatchett

pawnbroker
Click for “Pawnbroker” Goodreads Page

A Five-Star Thriller

Law. . . It was all a game, one whose outcome was usually determined not so much by right and wrong as by who had the money and who held the power.”

In the case of “Pawnbroker” by Jerry Hatchett, law as game and money and power is the whole point. Gray Bolton is a simple pawnbroker. He spends his days with the poor, the downtrodden, the hopeless and helpless of society. It isn’t a fancy life for the son of a powerful Judge, but with a wife and two little girls, Gray is content. Until the unthinkable happens.

This is an exceptionally tight thriller. Cleverly written, with engaging twists and turns, along with a smattering of humor, this is a novel you won’t want to put down. The greed, nepotism, and inherent evil of a group of people with no restraints upon their power is shown in its clear brutality and total disregard for human life and the liberties the ‘law’ is supposed to provide.

Growing up in the South myself, Jerry’s take on the rotten core of politics and law inherent in the “Good Old Boy” mentality is spot-on. Not all Southern politicians and ‘peacekeepers’ are evil, but both historically and in modern times, the Southern political and legal climate is just as convoluted and inherently twisted (if not more-so) than the overall political climate of the U.S. and the world. There is a fascinating secondary story line to the book that makes excellent use of Jerry’s forensics background and keeps the story interesting on several levels.

As in real life, it’s not always easy to discern who the ‘good guys’ are, but by this book’s end, the good guys will leave a lasting mark on the reader’s mind, as will the ‘bad guys’. If you like well written thrillers with likable characters, as well as truly despicable ones and a well developed story line, give Hatchett’s work a try. You won’t be disappointed.

I received this book in exchange for a review. https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1357824 As always, however, all reviews are based upon my personal feelings about the book with no basis in how I actually received the book.

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