RED STAR by Dennis Ford

RED STAR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One man struggles to save himself and his hometown from the corrupt forces that threaten to doom everything he loves.

Returning Vietnam vet Blair Bottoms finds the words of honor and gratitude from the town fathers do not match the residents’ actions in the seaside town of Milton, N.J. From protests at the local college to trouble getting a job, Bottoms meets subtle hostility at every turn, even within his own family. Taking advantage of work where he can get it, Bottoms becomes caught in a web of corruption and deceit. His girlfriend Melissa is the one bright spot in his life, until his criminal associations threaten her too. Bottoms is at a crossroads. Morally, he cannot keep working for a crime syndicate that’s involved with shady real estate and drugs, but there seems to be no way out. Finally, Bottoms decides to take action, forcing the hands of those who pull the strings of corrupt government and big business at mortal risk to himself, if only to save the woman he cherishes and the town. Extremely detailed and liberally peppered with obscure words that warrant keeping a dictionary close by, Ford’s writing is strongly creative, if too verbose in telling Bottoms’ tale. The author adeptly explores moral issues, but often uses stock secondary characters, like Melissa’s conservative father and the liberal college professor eager to have Bottoms join the anti-war cause, to make his points. But he effectively captures the mood of an era and the Jersey shore setting through action and dialogue. Despite some overly long opening chapters and meandering story lines, a satisfactory if slightly unrealistic ending comes full circle, carrying with it an optimistic message about the human condition and the hero in particular.

A well-plotted if dense story of a return home–and rediscovering one’s place in it.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-595-44326-0
Program: Kirkus Indie
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