Gallagher’s debut paranormal potboiler examines one man’s search for the truth.
Sean O’Shea always wanted to be a writer, but unfortunately “every attempt ended with an unfinished manuscript.” A huge fan of the History Channel, Sean finds himself with a thirst for information about UFOs and a need for cash. Seeing his longtime dream as a practical solution to both problems, he decides to take action. Sure, his family is fine thanks to an online business selling organic products. But, after some issues with the housing market, Sean is motivated “to not only regain financial independence, but also to restore his self-esteem.” Leaning toward a book that will attempt to prove the U.S. government has suppressed evidence of UFOs, he speaks with an old acquaintance who once worked for the CIA. Originally from Germany, Wilhelm Wolfe tells Sean of an incident that occurred in a forest near Freiburg in 1936. The story includes a UFO, Nazis, and the potential for a connection between the two. With Wolfe able to explain more and more about Nazi interest in the occult, Sean is soon transfixed enough to change his investigative intentions. He heads to Europe, where his journey takes him down darker, more dangerous paths that happen to include the murkier aspects of the Roman Catholic Church. Frequently blunt (“Someone is hunting and killing people who were doing what you’re about to do,” Sean is warned before embarking on his mission), the book moves with all the heft of a no-nonsense adventure. But ever the family man, Sean travels to Europe in part to see his daughter, who is studying at the University of Heidelberg. While this aspect can slow down some of the action (could Dan Brown’s hero Robert Langdon have made it so far if he constantly stopped to call his wife?), it creates a protagonist that is relatable, if a bit corny. Incorporating items of historical interest (including “Operation Paperclip”), the novel blends the real with the fictional to make a mix that explores what sort of boogeymen might lurk in locations as disparate as the Vatican and the Black Forest.
Helmed by an Everyman, this tale is likely to appeal to readers who envision themselves leaping from the armchair into an international thriller.