In Rust’s follow-up (Pot Luck, 2011), bumbling protagonist Jacob Walton navigates Hollywood’s underbelly and uncovers hidden secrets as he tries to prove his ex-wife’s innocence in a gruesome double homicide.
Having recently inherited his father’s fortune, middle-aged, pot-smoking psychologist Dr. Jacob Walton has barely settled into his new life when he learns that his ex-wife, Savannah Flanerie, is the lead suspect in the crime of the century in LA involving the power players of Leire Industries—Phillip and Regina. Although Savannah is a nymphomaniac with gold-digger tendencies, Walton succumbs to his daughter Ashley’s pleas to keep her mother out of jail and decamps to Ashley’s Hollywood mansion. Once there, he encounters a large cast of morally bankrupt characters, each with their own plausible motive for murder. As Walton plays amateur sleuth, the plot becomes increasingly convoluted as the narrative alternates between Walton’s point of view and those of at least eight of the primary players. Along the way, Walton discovers that the other lead suspect in the case, Earl Medlar, was also involved in the unresolved Leire kidnapping case years ago. Once Walton, with the help of his TV reporter fiancée, Teri Tarbell, solves the Leire murder mystery in true-to-Hollywood form, the two turn their attention to Earl. While the title is inspired by King Lear, the book is really a mashup of King Lear and A Midsummer’s Night Dream, with farcical misunderstandings and no shortage of tragedy. The result is a murder-mystery bodice-ripper filled with sleazy characters and even sleazier scenes. While the plot engages, with enough action to guarantee continual page turning, the book would benefit from a thorough edit for the sake of grammar and pacing, as well as the simplification of both the plot and the higher-level vocabulary, since the latter is not in keeping with the dialogue or the storyline.
Sure to please fans of the genre looking for the next great beach read, and the open ending hints at a third book in the Walton family soap opera.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.