Broken Monarch ISBN: 9781090260742. Assumed self-published, copyright and written by Tom Schneider.
This short book opens after an introductory statement: “All places, secret programs and some events were real.” The entire story extends from August 19, 1979 through sometime in September, seemingly in the same year, although the injuries suffered by the protagonist would make the following year more probable. The story opens with a man and woman discussing an upcoming apparently clandestine operation in which the man seems to be the manipulator and the woman the subject’s ‘handler’. The next chapter follows the activities of another person named Glenn walking away from a just exploded vessel docked in a marina. From these somewhat confusing, but definitely dark opening activities, the story evolves into a sinister tale of a shadowy group of individuals who are initiating a series of activities by which they intend to control the world. The MKUltra project, now referred to as Monarch, is a procedure initiated somewhere in the CIA or other such weird-thinking organization to experiment with controlling minds with a sub-project referred to as Spellbinder. The objective was to create sleeper assassins that could be activated by a trigger word, phrase or even a symbol who could then act with no subsequent memory of the activity. Congressional hearings shut down the project, but unfortunately a shadowy group of powerful ‘insiders’ simply moved it into a hidden agenda and continued. The plot evolves by following Glenn as pieces of his memory begin to reappear, strengthened by meeting and becoming emotionally involved with his ‘handler’, and the plot moves quickly through subsequent violent activity. The ending fully prepares the reader for the following installment.
Discussion: The basic plot is somewhat reminiscent of a theme of the motion picture “The Manchurian Candidate”. Here it perhaps is somewhat more involved with both sides being visited and more details of the procedures revealed. It is a short, quickly evolving tale that additionally provides an emotional relationship between the subject and his handler with perhaps unexpected results that provide a basis for the next episode. The story’s initial phase is somewhat indeterminate but builds well and with a few hiccups provides a fast pace of violent activity that many thriller devotes will thoroughly enjoy.
5* A short, quickly accelerating action tale for dark thriller devotees.