Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: The Watchman of Ephraim by Gerard de Marigny

The Watchman of Ephraim (Cris de Niro, Book #1)
by Gerard de Marigny
Release Date: January 21, 2011
2011 JarRyJorNo Publishing
E-book Edition; 226 Pages
Hardccover Edition; 290 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-983-37460-2
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review Copy from Author

4.5 / 5 Stars

Cris De Niro worked his way up to the top of the hedge fund world. Yet, all of his money couldn't protect him from losing his wife on 9/11.

Turning to his faith to overcome his anguish, he reads about the "Watchman of Ephraim" a defender who kept watch over the land, in a biblical passage. De Niro decides to acquire a lackluster counter-terrorism agency in order to transform it into a modern-day version of The Watchman for the United States but there's not a moment to lose. Aref Sami Zamani is planning a terrorist attack on American soil - codenamed "Antioch," a plot to detonate a nuke over the city of Las Vegas. The Watchman uncovers a connection between Zamani and a Mexican drug cartel but their agent goes missing before they can learn more.  References are discovered to something the Mexicans are calling "Noche Del Espantada" ...Fright Night," but can it mean something else? September 11, 2011 and the sun hasn't risen yet in Las Vegas or Nogales. Antioch is in motion! At the border, Noche Del Espantada has begun and there are intruders at De Niro's ranch.It's the 10th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil and unless De Niro and his new team are successful, the day will be known as "The 2nd 9/11."

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed The Watchman of Ephraim, and with the tenth anniversary of 9/11 coming soon, this novel is certainly a testament to those who lost their lives in one of the most horrific terrorist acts to take place on American soil.  The Watchman begins ten years earlier when Cris De Niro is in New York City to surprise his wife who is pregnant with their third child.  Coming to the realization of how important his family is to him, he buys her flowers and is on his way to the 104th floor when the first plane hits the Tower.  As the terrifying events unfold, they are told with beauty and utmost respect by the author, leaving me breathless.  Even though I watched everything on television as it was happening, the horror and pain came back like it was yesterday, and my heart went out again to all those who lost loved ones that day.  Mr. de Marigny did a wonderful job recreating the shock, fear, and heartbreaking loss of those who experienced the tragedy of 9/11.

Ten years later, Cris is still reeling from the shock of losing his wife through such an act of terrorism, looking for answers that do not come.  As hugely successful hedge-fund investor, he buys a counter-terrorism company in order prevent something like 9/11 from ever happening today.  This is part of the novel I found really fascinating as the author took the reader through some of the steps of setting up such a company, and what kinds of tools would be necessary for such a company to function.  I read with vivid interest all of the scenes between the CEOs and Cris, and how people were recruited to how things were going to be developed.  Usually in novels, the companies are already functioning, or have been running for years, so you don't see this kind of thing.  The characters fit in smoothly with this scenario, and I really enjoyed the dialogue between all of the characters, even when things weren't necessarily functioning smoothly.

While I enjoyed the plotline very much, I did find it somewhat predictable and I definitely was able to predict the ending to the problem.  I would have liked to have seen a little more complicated plotline, and I would have liked the 'mole' so to speak to be a little less out there in the sense that I would have preferred to figure out who it was rather than be in my face.  Other than that, I enjoyed the characters tremendously.  The witty dialogue and fun interactions between the characters kept the novel entertaining, and I do have to admit that I developed a special liking for David, even if he wasn't in the novel for very long.  The Scotch bottle scene had me laughing out loud, and I am still chuckling over it today.  That comic bit of humour amidst the death that took place around the scene is one of the things I enjoyed about this novel.  I do have to admit to frustration at times over things the characters didn't do considering how brilliant they are supposed to be;  why didn't they look up Zamani's picture while they were researching his information?  And how did such brilliant techies miss what was researched on the 'cellphone' as I would have thought that was easy to find? To suddenly find this information at the last moment certainly adds to the suspense, but still...

With several themes flowing through this novel, the main one being the sense of patriotism one has for their country and the safety of those in it.  This is what sends Cris on the path to protecting his fellow citizens and there are some interesting discussions revolving around this topic in this novel; to what extent does one go to protect the innocent citizens of one's country, those who have no political involvement, but may be victims of attacks without their knowing it?  The other strong theme in this novel is loyalty, friendship, and love.  It is great to feel deeply for someone, but how does someone get over the feeling of betrayal for someone when that loved one is dead?  It's an interesting theme, and a sad one as well, one that motivates Cris in everything he does.  I am curious as to how the author deals with these emotions, and with Cris in future novels.  With strong and wonderful writing skills, Mr. de Marigny has created characters that you want to believe in and in whom you want to succeed so that nothing like 9/11 ever happens again.

The Watchman of Ephraim is a great beginning to what promises to be a wonderful series.  This novel is the one that sets up events for future novels, and while it definitely has its tension and suspenseful moments, it was more about introducing us to some very interesting and intriguing characters whom I hope we will definitely see in his next novel, Signs of War, to be released September 2011.


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