MATADOR, a Barrett Mason Thriller, Volume 1, published, copyright and written by Stewart Matthews.

Barrett is a former Recon Marine now working on clandestine operations for the U. S. under direction of his old commanding officer. The reader meets him as he is attempting to extract a microbiologist defecting from Iran. The defector is killed as the operation is underway and Mason must now save himself but there is another problem. The scientist, without informing anyone, had brought his daughter to be extracted with him. Mason feels responsible for saving this pre-teenage child who provides an additional problem in that she speaks only her native tongue. The story evolves as he eventually is able to get the two back to the states where the plot further develops as the very intelligent child is able to retrieve all of her father’s secretive data, shine light on a viscous world-wide operation to not only take over the U.S., but other nations, as well. This story ends with a degree of closure and entre to Volume 2.

Discussion: More pragmatic readers may need to overlook the question of how Barrett can make as many mistakes and often the inadequate moves as he does and still survive. If this has been his modus operandi through his numerous years in the Marines and subsequent clandestine activity, his survival has been amazing. His escapes in this volume mostly result from the intervention of good Karma and as a parenthetical aside, conversations within a helicopter are difficult, at best and many of the fight scenes here and elsewhere could benefit from editing. However, if one is addicted to thrillers regardless, this tale is replete with interesting characters with whom a reader can empathize as they proceed in a fast-paced plot that provides a base upon which to build the next escapade.

3* Fast-paced tale most thriller addicts can enjoy.

Pablo’s Apprentice

PABLO’s Apprentice, Where Revenge Meets Romance, assumed published, copyright and written by Richard A. DeVall.

The book open with a quote from Pablo Escobar: “Geniuses are always branded as crazy” and follows the life and escapades of psychopathic killer Rose Alvara who idolized his thoughts and actions, and how it affected her and the people her life touched. The story opens with the death of David Turner, a California police helicopter pilot and several other police officers at the expense of Rose and her lover and former cell mate, Little Bee as they escape a somewhat botched bank robbery. The reader then is introduced to Brandy Bednarz, David’s utterly devastated love which begins a second thread to follow in this lengthy novel of revenge. She is utterly despondent and moves east to live with her parents where she finally recovers enough to obtain a job and sentimentally begins training to become a recreational helicopter pilot. On her final instructor-accompanied flight, their flight plan takes them by fate over an area where Rose and Little Bee have just pulled another bank robbery and have evaded the police. However, Brandy and her instructor catch the police report, spot the escapees and give directions to the pursuers. Rose and Bee come close to downing their plane with long range rifles, but they escape. The two psychopaths continue their flight but Little Bee is killed and Rose decides to ‘make Brandy suffer’. The story continues on a complicated and hugely Karma influenced path leading eventually to foreign lands and ends in a most interesting manner.

Discussion: This is a fascinating, albeit chilling story depending upon development of a series of fate-influenced actions that severely nudge credibility. It consists of the development of a somewhat sadistic, unusually intelligent narcissistic psychopathic killer, and her resulting activities. It also presents the evolution of a second protagonist who is confused and greatly depressed from the series of fateful actions that she has encountered and eventually sees a psychiatrist. She also has acquired a new romantic attachment who is as confused a person as she is. The two, as a result of her being the recipient of Rose’s hatred, the ineffectual police activity, and being gradually nudged by the selected psychiatrist who also seems to have been psychologically injured, eventually evolve into thinking in a vengeful manner. The characters are well-presented but the action is slowed repeatedly by rather voluminous descriptions of the individuals during their introspective or soul-searching periods. Fortunately, most is mitigated by the fast-moving tempo so the reader’s interest is retained at a sufficient level to want to continue to read to the end.

Summary: A somewhat irregularly paced novel about interrelationships among several psychologically disturbed individuals with some performing particularly vicious activity. Regrettably from this reader’s perspective, judicious editing would have provided some reduction in the plot’s overly heavy dependence upon the influence of fate. The characters are well-portrayed and their indulgence in frequent periods of self-analysis are believable, relevant and well-justified, but again judicious handling could do much to enhance the pace

3* 5* Fascinating albeit unpleasant tale rated for reasons presented.