Saturday, March 2, 2013

James Scott Bell's latest novel keeps you hanging on and begging for more!

When Chuck Samson left for Afghanistan he was a man in love. He returned home broken to a marriage that would never be reconciled, a mother who no longer recognizes him, and to a brother who depends on him as much now as he did when they were children. Then came the morning he collided with “the Mad Russian,” making his already difficult life impossible.

Now on the run and attempting to clear his name in a murder investigation, Chuck must try to put together his jumbled memories from a war he was never supposed to return from and face the shadowy horrors that have haunted him every day since — all while protecting his autistic brother Stan whose greatest fear is that one day Chuck will leave him.

From the very first line of the very first paragraph, readers are set right in the middle of the chaos that is soon to become Chuck’s life. As with much of Jim’s work, Don’t Leave Me is set in the quick pace of the Los Angeles backdrop. The story twists and turns through trumped up charges, mysterious phone calls, abduction, gunfights, and a brief encounter with a hippie playwright — and the story does so without missing a beat as it speeds its way to the explosive conclusion.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Don’t Leave Me is the multiple viewpoints. Although the bulk of the story is presented through protagonist Chuck Sampson’s eyes, we are also given the opportunity to experience the world through Stan’s unique perspective, as well as gain the insights of a homicide detective, a school principal, and a couple of very unsavory drug lords.

True to his form, Bell creates a realistic and believable world, includes plenty of trans-generational pop culture references, and has just the right mix of humor to add a little spice to the tang of suspense. Even better, Don’t Leave Me is a story that I enjoyed reading just as much the second time.

Don’t Leave Me, is currently available in digital form for Kindle and Nook Readers and Apps. As of this writing, a print edition had not been announced. But if it is, I’ll be one of the first in line to add it to my real-life bookshelf.

Note: I had the privilege of reading an earlier version of the book last summer while Jim was still working through the final edits, so it was especially fun for me going from reading a draft with lots of notes and questions in the margin to reading the fully finished novel complete with revisions that addressed those very concerns. As a newer writer, it was encouraging for me to see that a more experienced writer still goes through the same processes and struggles as I do. Seeing the polished work only encouraged me to keep moving forward with my own fiction writing.

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