The father and son writing duo, Gerald and Kristopher Kubicki, have authored another intriguing adventure/mystery novel titled The Oracle Philon which is part of the long-running series of Colton Banyon Mysteries.
The plot of this novel is that a couple of corrupt organizations – Radical Islamists and the Effort (as welll as the US Government) – have taken calculations from a manuscript by the ancient Greek philosopher Philon and invented devices that can create sinkholes and unusual weather conditions by using the Earth’s magnetic vortices, for their own nefarious means (perhaps the destruction of Earth that would make it a wasteland like Mars). The MAD team (Mysterious Artifacts Department of Area 51), fearing that these devices could be used between warring factions for global destruction, is working to stop them by recovering the devices and locking them away in a special hangar in Area 51. MAD is a four-member team – Kaley Wells who does the physical work of recovering the artifacts (she’s even described as a contortionist), Malcolm Short who locates the artifacts (he’s a lawyer with an unusual “psychic” ability), Lisa Lange who does the research and identification (she’s a professor), and Simon Stone who gives out the assignments (he’s the owner of The Aurora Insurance Company who insures unusual artifacts and the head of MAD).
Other characters in the book include gang members of The Wild Rebels (a biker’s gang) who follow Malcolm and Kayle around for the Effort (another corrupt organization); several officers (Pride, Joy and Pine) who are investigating the Mosque where the Radical Islamists attend; Ben Brown who is a white supremacist and the owner of the book Philon’s Mechanics treatise – the missing artifact and where information about how to create the devices is discovered; and many other government officials. I actually think for a fairly simple story, there are far too many minor characters to keep up with, and at times it created some confusion for me (because I have memory issues) to remember who’s who and what their roles were. This will probably not be a big issue for other readers though.
While the plot of this novel is exciting, one thing early on doesn’t add up for me – Malcolm Short’s lack of knowledge about MAD. If he has been working for Simon Short for a while and with Kaley, why has he just been “read-in” to MAD? If the artifacts have all been unusual to begin with, he should have known about MAD all along, or at the very least, been more curious about these unusual artifacts.
There are other problems with this novel, mainly technical in nature. For example, some of the dialogue is way too long and it feels like information is just being dumped on the reader. Yes, this information needs to be told, but shorter back and forth exchanges would work much better for the reader. This can be seen in the Prologue with the Captain and his first mate, as well as when Malcolm is being read-in to MAD (it happens in other areas as well, but these two stood out prominently to me).
Other issues include some of the dialogue tags being used repeatedly or just not adequately describing what the speaker is trying to relay. One such usage really rubbed me the wrong way:
the millennial aged woman — meaning she was under thirty — complained in a whine
First, we don’t need the explanation “meaning she was under thirty” because in our modern age, we all know what a millennial is. Secondly, when someone complains, we take for granted that the person is whining. This is redundant. Technical issues like this are peppered throughout the novel and while they may not be big deal-breakers for many readers, and they didn’t prevent me from reading this novel, they were a little unsettling for me and caused me to pause while reading. I guess it is the English major in me that cringed. All of this could be resolved with some extra editing.
Sometimes the authors used descriptions that were off-putting (for me) as well, especially when Malcolm described women in the book – calling Kaley and Lisa ‘blonde goddesses’, and his leering at Kayle and Lisa’s bodies, with internal dialogue. I am not sure any of those things needed to be in the book if the authors want this to be read by both men and women. It makes Malcolm out to be a sexist character, and maybe that is how the authors wanted him to appear, but for me, he isn’t a likable character because of it and it doesn’t make me want to cheer for him as one of the heroes of the story. Perhaps it creates ‘realistic’ characters to have Malcolm as a sexist and Kayle and Lisa as erotic, exotic females, but is this realistic of how people act with one another on a job? I am not sure. Perhaps it is in our current society and perhaps I am being too prudish.
Of course, these are just personal issues with the book for me. This does not mean that the story isn’t good or that the plot doesn’t work. It is an exciting story and it is a workable plot. The story is fast-paced, intriguing and filled with lots of great action. It is set in a modern world with all of the issues that we face today with terrorism, hate, and insecurities, but with unique twists that will definitely keep readers reading to the very end. If you enjoy face-paced adventure/mysteries, then the entire Colton Banyon series is worth reading, as well as this one which isn’t centered around Colton Banyon.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Rating: 4 Stars (for technical issues)
Genre: Action/Thriller, Paranormal, Science Fiction
To Purchase: Amazon
Gerald J. Kubicki’s Website