In Leodas’ thriller, Johanna Wagner and Michael Warner become the unwitting catalysts in a tense conspiracy, launched long before they were born, to gain economic and political control of the United States government.
Their story begins in 1945, with the brutal murders of seven seemingly random people in Milwaukee, Wis. By 1995, Johanna has just graduated from college, and Michael is working for a U.S. Senator. Although their lives appear to be on different trajectories, they have much in common. They’re both pampered children of wealthy parents and oblivious to the dangerous secrets of their parents’ pasts. These secrets are soon violently revealed, as is their link to each other through the powerful men who have shaped both their lives. The tension builds steadily as Leodas (A Sorority Of Angels, 2012) gradually pulls the disparate storylines together in a chilling climax full of twists and turns. As their formerly protected lives unravel, Johanna and Michael confront the deadly threats against them with surprising resourcefulness and tenacity. There’s enough foreshadowing to keep each plot twist from being a complete shock but enough intrigue to keep the pages turning. Leodas’ unusual writing style sometimes distracts. He frequently avoids the passive voice by simply deleting “is” and “was,” a technique that’s often unsuccessful: “By nightfall, Johanna tormented to the edge of control.” Other sentences appear to be carefully crafted to avoid similar writing pitfalls, resulting in nearly incomprehensible prose: “Both forty-six years old, married upon finishing high school and enjoying excellent health except for an occasional ache in Erwin’s knees, an old football injury in high school when a speedy running back; the Glory Days of his life.” Still, the author guides the plot with a light hand to keep it believable.
Despite the occasional awkwardness, Leodas continually moves the story forward.