Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: Fort Reiley by Jerry Hanel

That's twice, now.
My go-to genres for reading have always been fantasy and/or science fiction.  I love the creative freedom of those worlds; they provide an open door of possibilities that don't exist in reality.  As a result, most books that are based in the real world tend to lose my interest long before I finish them.
In 2011, I bought Jerry Hanel's Death Has A Name, a paranormal murder mystery about detective Brodie Wade.  Though the genre is not normally my favorite, Death Has A Name sucked me in almost immediately and held me to the last word.  That, in and of itself, fascinated me, because I'm usually pretty hard to please when it comes to finding a good book.  But it was a great story with a unique premise and compelling writing, and I really enjoyed the ride.
Now, he's done it again.
Jerry Hanel's latest novel, Fort Reiley , follows the story of Harrison Kass, a mediocre reporter with a lead on a story and a past he'd like to forget.  During a stop in the small town of Fort Reiley , Oklahoma , he stumbles over something that is anything but mediocre: a town without children, adults who don't age, and a community that won't talk.  What Harry discovers turns out to be something most tabloids wouldn't print, a secret so dangerous that mere knowledge of the truth marks him as a dead man.  And it won't be long before that danger becomes a reality.
Character development is everything to me.  You can have the most interesting premise in the world, but if the character development is shallow, the story feels empty.  It's the personality, history, growth, and goals of the characters that drive any good story, and without those elements, the audience has nothing to make them care.  It is this type of character development that Jerry Hanel excels at, and when combined with the plot of Fort Reiley , these elements come together to create a fascinating and exciting tale. 
This book kept me up late almost every night over the past week because I kept telling myself, "Just one more page."  "OK, one more."  "Fine, one more."  Every chapter contains another exciting revelation or plot turn that kept me glued to my tablet.  I don't want to spoil anything about the story, but I will say that Mr. Hanel manages to take elements from some of the more recent storytelling trends and implements them in a very unique and believable way.  That, along with deep characters and a story that never stops moving - even in slower scenes - made my adventure alongside Harrison Kass an exciting and memorable one.
I sincerely hope that Fort Reiley garners a lot of attention, sales, and promotion for Jerry Hanel.  If you enjoy mysteries, suspense, thrillers, or all of the above, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't check out this book.
I don't know if he would be interested if the offer came to him, but I can say with 100% confidence that I think this story is extremely well suited to be translated into a movie or TV series were it to wind up in the hands of the right people.  I know I'd love to see it.

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