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    My Thoughts on In Flames

    I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour for a fair and honest review. A lover of mysteries, thrillers and romantic suspense, I couldn’t wait to read In Flames by Richard H. Weber. Set in in a lush tropical paradise and filled with intrigue, forbidden romance and betrayal at almost every turn, Dan Shedrick, Mr. Weber’s protagonist, is a surprising choice as a central character. Especially when you take into account his age, experience and naiveté. While I found Mr. Weber’s writing style easy to read and mostly enjoyable, I have to admit that I don’t really believe this fits in the thriller genre; I’m just not sure what genre I would put it in. A recent graduate from Princeton with no job prospects, Dan Shedrick manages to “luck” into a job working for the XY Company as a junior architect designing oil rigs. Sent to a lush tropical paradise, San Inigo, Dan starts work and immediately falls in with the local “ex-pats”(Americans living on the island) and their lifestyle. While life on the island for the ex-pats is one spent drinking, eating and playing sports (tennis, golf, swimming), the island is hardly the tropical paradise one would typically expect. The government is clearly corrupt and being bolstered by U.S. support in exchange for oil. Life outside of the ex-pat community is full of danger with armed rebels determined to get their island back and Dan soon finds himself involved in ways he could never have imagined. While Mr. Weber does a good job developing Dan’s character, he’s not a character I was able to connect with or even really like. While Dan is clearly young (just graduated from college so I am assuming around 22-23), he’s naïve, foolish and morally weak. Beginning an affair with his country club host’s wife is just one of the many things Dan does which gets him into hot water. Agreeing to become a “spy” and solve the murder of a local “radio celebrity” for the American Embassy attaché (AKA CIA Station Chief) for additional money (but no training what-so-ever) is beyond believable (I seriously hope the CIA doesn’t recruit local talent this way). As if Dan doesn’t have enough on his plate, he’s invited to attend a local “Santeria” ceremony, where as luck would have it, he gets kidnapped by the local rebels, who are being led by a former priest whose fall from grace was a result of Dan’s spying attempts. The secondary characters are colorful and morally ambiguous at best. We meet Elaine, the young wife of the country club owner, who uses Dan for more than just an affair. As one of the central secondary characters, Elaine is colorful and interesting; she introduces Dan to the CIA Station Chief for money, is somehow connected to the death of the local “radio celebrity”, and literally hands Dan over to the rebels on a silver platter. We also meet the “Padre”, a priest in trouble with the local Bishop and a man who has a lot more on his plate than one would expect for someone in his position. Things that eventually lead to his being de-frocked and expelled by the local bishop. We also meet the local “general” in control of the island; a man who was once Elaine’s lover and thinks she is somehow involved in the death of the “radio celebrity”. He’s not interested in justice or concerned about the welfare of the local people and makes it clear to Dan that he intends to jail whoever gets in his way. Will Dan find a way to get free from the rebel who have kidnapped him? Will he ever solve the murder of the local “radio celebrity”? And will he choose to remain on the island or flee back to the US when he gets the chance? You’ll have to read In Flames to find out.

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