Two brothers, born four years apart, struggle with change, loss, and divergent lives in this novel.
Alongi’s readable tale of two Maryland siblings, Pat and Chad Braden, begins with their harrowing memory of the double murder of their parents. The lasting ramifications of this crime plague both brothers, particularly Chad, who’s eager to live up to his father’s expectations, so he joins a naval academy. Meanwhile, older brother Pat enrolls in a Christian seminary with the hope of being ordained. Chad’s narrative becomes the novel’s focus as he faces academic melodrama, jealous games with fellow students, and an accident that ends his interest in the school. After a move to Virginia, he accepts a risky undercover job to bust a collegiate drug ring; its success could fast-track him toward becoming a naval intelligence officer. Chad’s potent libido, meanwhile, continually roils his personal life, as he seems to believe that every woman he meets is trying to seduce him. As he begins his career as an officer, he finds himself the target of revenge by the deadly Russian mob; meanwhile, Pat moves up the ranks at a diocese in Baltimore. Chad is soon assigned to be part of an international drug raid, which leads to tragedy, and, in a slick narrative twist, he becomes the prime suspect in a multiple murder. Although pious Pat become more visible in the book’s final third, this is very much Chad’s tale, overall. This is a good thing, because Alongi (Blood Bond, 2004) works hard to develop and maintain this particular character. That said, the story might have benefited from a bit more of Pat’s priestly perspective to add narrative variety and familial dimension. The melodrama continues to swirl well into the final chapters, and Alongi hastily ties up loose ends as quickly as the closing pages will allow. Ultimately, this is breezy fare for suspense fans who crave books with a farrago of plot points, characters, sex acts, and resolutions.
A somewhat undeveloped drama overall, but one that still offers brisk fun and a thrill or two.