The Thing Speaks for Itself ISBN: 9780997905502, Sneaky Quiet Publishing, a psychological mystery/thriller by A. S. A. Durphy.
Plot: The author introduces the reader to Special Agent Gracie Stratis who is on a mission headed by Charles Davis. It serves as part of advanced training before leaving for overseas security assignment. The mission does not go particularly well and she receives some injuries, but not sufficient to interfere with a second assignment. The second assignment is a more or less complete disaster where Charles is killed and she receives several severe injuries leaving her with a damaged leg/ankle, median nerve damage (which controls feeling/action to the thumb and adjacent three fingers) and a certain amount of brain damage that time alone will determine rate of recovery. She is in her early thirties and formerly was employed by the Mayor in a position assumed to be related to security. In her personal life she is responsible for an unusual small group of younger persons all living with her in her apartment – Russell, her 22-year-old brother who delivers pizza and who she has ‘taken care of’ since he was a pre-teen when their father died; Dario, the same age and a gym employee (personal trainer?); Paige, a student journalist well versed in use of electronics; Noah, a young man raised in luxury, repeatedly cut off from funds by his parents because of non-conformity with their wishes and now employed on a questionable project being espoused by the Mayor. Noah disappears and the story evolves into activities undertaken by Gracie and her untrained cadre as they attempt to find him. Their attempts coincidentally interfere with advancement of a project deleterious for most of the people but immensely profitable for a small group of politically involved individuals. This brings into play several deadly employees-for- hire, a vicious drug dealer, his henchmen and assorted other characters. Wild melees result as a ‘refusing to admit but definitely severely injured and illusion-suffering Gracie’, assisted by her untrained/unknowledgeable and poorly fitted group, and with unexpected assistance, pursue their blundering but somehow moderately successful course.
Discussion: This is a story about a young woman carrying a considerable load of psychological baggage who reacts in a manner that proves to be increasingly self-destructive. It is a tale that is quite fascinating in some ways although more pragmatic readers will find several features difficult to accept. The plot gradually evolves well, action is ‘over-the-top’, and the illusionary aspects credible. Regrettably, the character development and their interaction are rather rudimentary and this reader often had difficulty in ‘catching-up’ at the beginning of, of even during some portions of the activity in a scene,.
3* Interesting story, fascinatingly but unevenly presented.